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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | September 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


SEPTEMBER 15, 2021


October action plan

Buy

Be on the lookout for trendy items that will add zest to your holiday merchandise presentation. Act and react to what’s happening in the marketplace! Read, ask your vendors, and network all you can to discover last minute best sellers as you move closer to the holidays. There’s still time to buy hot items.

Begin buying Valentine’s Day merchandise. 💘

Order male-specific gifts for the holidays: pro/collegiate paraphernalia, barbecue tools, aprons, wall clocks, auto tag frames, travel mugs, flashlights, work lights, digital tire gauges, roadside emergency kits, aluminum wallets, golfers tools, pocket screwdrivers. It’s really hard to buy for men. Be the shop solves this challenge for your customers.

✂️ Mark Down

After Halloween, weed out “lemons” and put them on sale. You may make less profit, but there will be no profit if you’re stuck with them. Pack away remaining Halloween for next year.After Halloween, weed out “lemons” and put them on sale. You may make less profit, but there will be no profit if you’re stuck with them. Pack away remaining Halloween for next year.

🧸 Display

All Halloween merchandise should be on display in the shop by early October. Be sure to check your stock rooms to ensure all items have made it to the selling floor. 🎃

Display Thanksgiving merchandise. 🦃

Display calendars and date books in October in order to sell through before Christmas. This is prime time to sell calendars. 📆

October 16: National Boss’s Day. Create a display of desk accessories, candy and flowers. 🎯

Sweetest Day is always held the third Saturday in October. Set up a display with cards, gifts, candy, and flowers. Sweetest Day is a strong holiday in the northeast and central states. 🍬

📝 Plan

It’s time to begin developing your holiday buying and marketing plan. Plan your holiday displays for the next eight weeks. 

Meet with the flower vendor to ensure that the cooler will be well stocked with holiday plants and flowers throughout November and December.

Get sales, promotions and events ready to roll out.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Create a pink themed display with specialty items for breast cancer patients. Hold a fundraising event for the month and donated the funds to the hospital’s breast cancer charity. Include signage or flyers on breast cancer programs at your hospital. Merchandise includes:

  • Novelty socks with the pink ribbon motif. It’s a great item for any patient going through treatment or simply hospital staff wanting to call attention to cancer events
  • Hydration items such as water bottles are a great item for organized breast cancer walks and events
  • Caps and tee-shirts
  • Novelty jewelry
  • Anything “pink” can also be used in the display to make a statement.

Excerpt from A Twelve-Month Action Plan for Gift Shop Managers and Buyers

UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

October
Oct 10 – Handbag Day
Oct 11 – Columbus Day
Sep 15 – Yom Kippur
Oct 16 – Boss’s Day
Oct 16 – Sweetest Day
Oct 31 – Halloween
November
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 25 – Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – Black Friday
Nov 28 – Hanukkah Begins
Nov 29 – Cyber Monday
December
Dec 4 – National Sock Day
Dec 6 – Hanukkah Ends
Dec 25 – Christmas
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve
JANUARY
Jan 1 – New Year’s Day
Jan 3 – Martin Luther King Day


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Trend report for Spring/Summer 2022

Atlanta Apparel’s in-house fashion office has released its semi-annual trend report, previewing the upcoming Spring/Summer 2022 colors, prints and styles retailers can expect to see while sourcing at the upcoming Atlanta Apparel, October 12-16, at AmericasMart Atlanta. “These trends reflect a year and a half of living through a pandemic. People’s priorities change and fashion evolves from what’s happening in our lives,” said Morgan Ramage, Atlanta Apparel Fashion Director. “Spring/Summer 2022 will showcase mood-boosting colors and styles as we transition from a period of uncertainty to cautious optimism.”

KEY COLORSMust-have apparelAccessories
Butter
Bubblegum Pink
Atlantic Blue
Preppy strong reds
Greens and brown to reflect outdoor lifestyle
Mango Sorbet to Golden Peach
Bubble-hem tops
Positive-message tees
Scalloped, lace, crochet blouses
Summer knit vest
Statement jewelry
Pendant and beaded necklaces
Chunky hoops
Nostalgic vanity-style bags, bucket bags, beaded bags
Soft-rectangle sunglasses, oversized retro sunglasses

SOURCE: AmericasMart Atlanta


SURVEY RESULTS: Do you have staff payroll deduction?

The results are overwhelming! Do you have staff payroll deduction? Seventy-six percent (76%) responded “Yes”.

The swipe of a badge is much easier than carrying around cash or a credit card, especially for hospital employees who are popping in while on break. Employees appreciate the convenience of buying without cash up front and interest-free! It’s all about removing barriers to sale and bringing value to your hospital employee’s lives by making the buying process quick and easy.

If you still don’t have payroll deduction learn how with the guide How To Implement An Employee Payroll Deduction System for Hospital Gift Shops

 

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RESPONSES: What is your markups in this post-COVID market?

Q. Wondering what your markup is on items right now? We have been limited to mostly our hospital staff as shoppers and are noticing a decline in sales. Thank you! – Gina Richmond, Sunshine Gift Shop Unity Point Hospital, Dubuque, IA. 126 beds. 8/10/21.

Cost + shipping x 2 across the board, excluding candy that is not specialty. If purchasing a discounted item or receiving a discount, the regular price is factored in and then the price is doubled. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, The Gift Corner/Loose Ends, Billings. 289 beds. 9/10/21

I have been doing the same markup as I did pre-COVID (x2). There are some items that I am able to mark up more (x 2.4 or more) depending on if I purchased them on sale or if they are just an inexpensive wholesale item that is great quality that I can markup for. With the added surcharges and increased wholesale prices across the board I am leaning towards a x 2.3 markup in the near future. – Sarah Ryan, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Rutland, VT 9/7/21

Glad to hear that, Sarah. Be sure to include shipping charges into the retail. – Cindy, Cindy Jones Associates

We are a small critical access hospital in Northwest Wisconsin. Due to the population we serve, I cannot always do the 2.3% markup on items in our gift shop, The Corner Boutique. I try, but am always mindful of the price point, yet there are times I can price an item higher because of the purchase price (on sale) and quality. It truly is a game of chance! Thank you everyone for sharing. – Ann Bergmann, Cumberland Healthcare, Cumberland, WI. 25 beds. 8/30/21

The gift shop I manage is located in a rural area where almost 50% of our population is Amish (LaGrange, Indiana). I typically cannot get away with marking up more than x2 and sometimes it’s less than that depending on the wholesale cost. – Christina Blaskie, Parkview LaGrange Hospital, LaGrange, IN. 8/23/21

We are using the same calculation we did pre-COVID. Mark up of 50% then the cost of shipping and handling. – Nancy Collins, New London Hospital, New London, NH. 8/18/21

Cost x 2.5 to 2.6 on most items. Candy/snacks are around 35%. – Angela Quinn, UNC Lenoir Health Care, Kinston, NC. 8/17/21

Except for candy & flowers our current markup is minimum 2.5. – Kerri Clark, Community Hospital, Munster, IN. 8/17/21

I haven’t changed my pricing post-COVID. I have kept it the same. I will however up my pricing for Christmas only because I feel like Christmas decorations are going to sell fast and customers are not going to mind the prices going up a little because prices are up for everything. – Lauri Huffman, Indiana University Health. 8/17/21

Good thinking Lorrie. As a past department store buyer for May/Macy’s, I can say that asking yourself “What would my customer be willing to pay” is very important. Value, uniqueness, quality will guide you to price. But my feeling is that if it is not food or flowers, you should never, ever only double the price of your products. When you DO have to mark items down, take a very close look at the product you are marking down and honestly ask yourself, why didn’t it sell? Was it color or quality, size, or value or did it come in too late in the season or was it poorly displayed or maybe, it just wasn’t for your customer base? What can you learn from a “markdown”? Trust me, it will be a good learning tool for future buys when a vendor says, “Everyone is selling this”. – Anne Obarski, Merchandise Concepts, Mt. Pleasant, MI. 8/17/21

I usually stick to about a 2.4 markup. A little less if I got a free freight special and sometimes I go up a little more. – Juli Chrisman, WPR Cancer Institute, Little Rock, AR. 8/17/21

Ours is normally 2.5 but with the rise in shipping and surcharges we have recently been going up a little more if the product can validate the price. – Cheryl, Novant Health, Charlotte, NC, 637 beds. 8/17/21

We double the cost plus shipping. – Robin Truax, Gouverneur Hospital, Gouveneur, NY, 77 beds. 8/17/21

65-70%  – Margaret Legut, Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst, IL. 259 bed/ 9/16/21

FROM CINDY

Gina, markups should remain the same! Do not change your markups! Once COVID is gone and life and retailing get back to normal, you will want to go back to your usual markups and pricing standards, but then your customers will walk out saying ‘everything is overpriced in the gift shop’!

If you are not taking at least a keystone markup (50% above wholesale) plus shipping on most of your merchandise, it is unlikely that your shop is profitable. Hospital gift shops cannot make a profit on an initial 2x times mark on plus shipping. After mark downs, the gross margin is reduced even more. Profitability is based on many things but one of the most important is markup.

Instead, look for hidden opportunities to earn a little extra profit. Consider buying merchandise at closeout or negotiating discounts on your purchases. Some items will need to be marked down because they are slow sellers. However, discounting everything, such as a “20% off everything” sale, is not recommended. Keep in mind, a mark down is the most important tool a retailer has to move a mistake out the door. We all make buying mistakes. It happens with the best buyers! Buying a bad style, wrong colors, wrong sizes, wrong timing, too many, bad fit, etc. Just don’t fret, recognize mistakes early and mark down immediately!

STANDARD MARKUPS BY CATEGORY

GIFTS, TOYS, APPAREL, CARDS, PLUSH, BABY, ACCESSORIESCANDY, SUNDRIES
Double price + 6-10% for shipping 
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.5 or more
30-33% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.4 or more
**Higher for specialty candy
JEWELRYFLOWERS
60-70% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.4 or more
**Most jewelry comes pre-priced.
33-35% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.5 or more

THANK YOU READERS!

Wow! Thank you to all who contributed your comments here and in past newsletters. We are so fortunate to have such a great community of readers, collaborating every month towards a common goal.

Gift shop managers really are AMAZING people! Strong, resilient, driven, creative, ingenious and BETTER TOGETHER!


Men’s holiday gifts

From a buyer, “It’s really hard to find men’s gifts that sell! Customers will ask if we have any men’s gifts and when we ask what they are looking for, they really can’t tell me. This is an ongoing challenge! Guys just don’t like “stuff” as much as women do!” Here are two ideas to start with: pro or collegiate paraphernalia from Jenkins Enterprises and American Expedition. They carry items that are masculine and tasteful and are nicely packaged and easy to display! Mud Pie has a “Him” category with a nice selection.

A few more things that have had some success are barbecue tools, aprons, wall clocks, auto tag frames, travel mugs, flashlights, work lights, digital tire gauges, roadside emergency kits, aluminum wallets, golfers tools, ‘7 in 1’ pocket screwdrivers, and magnifying glasses. A top seller for men is Joey Series by Outback Flashlights. It has a super-strong magnet in the base which allows the user to see under the hood of a car.


Q. Do you use HospitalGiftShop for your online store?

Q. Our shops have struggled with our online presence, especially through the pandemic and for a variety of other reasons. We are considering outsourcing to HospitalGiftShop to provide online access to our customers. Does anyone have experience with them? Have you used hospitalgiftshop.com for your online store? What are the pros and cons? What have you heard about them? What are the costs? Thank you! – Judi S, Gift Shops/Espresso Cafes. 7/8/21

Have you used hospitalgiftshop.com for your online store? What are the pros and cons? What have you heard about them? What are the costs? Would you use them?

Are you – our would you – use hospitalgiftshops.com for an online store? What is your experience? Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

Hospital Gift Shop is a Healthy Commerce company based in San Diego, California. We mention hospitalgiftshop.com in our recent article Creating and Online Store: Parts 1-4 as a way to outsource your entire online operation. But, there are pros and cons to doing so. We’d love to hear, first hand, from shops that are using their service!


5 ways to get a bigger share of the holiday sales pie

We’re down to the wire! You continue to fight the effects of COVID-19 on you, your business, your customers and your staff. You have closed your store, reopened, pivoted 27 times, and have figured out new ways to grow sales and to get product to your customers. You deserve a break! But not just yet. 

We have assembled five strategic actions you can take right now to help you get a bigger share of the holiday sales pie. Each of these five easy to implement ideas will help you entice customers to buy. 


five holiday sales tips
Front door “speed bumps”
Set the tone…. a lot!
Sell gift cards in-store & online
Sign the store like never before!
Daily team meetings

Begin at the front door 

You want your sales floor to scream “Holidays!” when shoppers enter. The perfect place to set the tone is at your “Speed Bumps”. These are the entry displays that give shoppers a taste of what they can expect when they shop your store. Try these for your speed bump displays: 

  • Pre-wrapped items
  • Cross-merchandised product that can be worn or used together
  • Items at the same price point
  • Gift suggestions by gender and age
  • Themed display of related items 

Remember to re-merchandise key parts of your sales floor, including the impulse items at the cashwrap, frequently. When the product remains stagnant – especially during the holidays – frequent shoppers think “I have seen this before” and keep on walking. So, move around new goods and things that have been with you for a while.

If you have to do pre-holiday markdowns do it while the sales floor continues to be busy with shoppers. The first markdown you take is the always the most important and the cheapest. 

Markdowns allow you to maximize your invested dollars. When you get those dollars back you can reinvest into newer items that will yield higher margins and better inventory turn. Packing product away for next year isn’t the answer because it never looks as fresh as it looked when it was initially received. Customers know. 

Set the tone 

Decorate the windows and the store for the holidays and put a Christmas spin on your dress code. And even if you hate holiday music, play it anyway because Christmas carols set the tone for the season. They also remind shoppers of the task at hand and puts them in gift-giving mode. 

Sell gift cards 

This is the precise time to focus on gift card sales. Statistics show that 75% spend more than the value of their card and 55% of gift card recipients require more than one shopping trip to the store to spend the balance of their card. This is great news! The more visits to your store the more likely they are to spend. Offer online gift cards as for those who like to shop from home or the last-minute shopper. 

🎯 TIP: Want to increase gift card sales? Include bonus cards for the shopper: “Buy $50 in gift cards and receive a $10 gift card for free”. Remember to make bonus cards valid after January 1 so they can’t be used to purchase holiday gifts. 

Sign the store like never before 

70% of purchase decisions are made in-store so signing helps shoppers make the decision to buy. Add signs to displays that read: New Arrivals, Gifts for Her, Gifts for Him, and add price points where applicable. Include product details to the signage like features, country or city of origin, the designer, materials, and the like. 

Meet daily with your team 

Make sure all associates are ready to provide excellent service. Meet with everyone for a couple of minutes in the morning. Share what’s new, changes on the sales floor, talk about what’s happening on social media, and what was sent to customers via email and direct mail. Talk up gift cards and gift ideas, do a Q&A – share whatever is important that particular day. 
Work just a little harder these months because your competitors will. We wish you a safe, wonderful, and prosperous holiday season. And remember, we are always here if we can help!

SOURCE: KIZER & BENDER’s Retail Adventures

How do you get ready for the holiday season? Do you have a tried-and-true cheatsheet? What are some imperative strategies you implement every year?

What are you doing to get ready for the holiday season? Do you use a checklist? Must-have strategies or tasks? Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

RESPONSES: Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?

I just ran across vaccination card holder/protectors, and it made me wonder if anyone has tried them and how they sell for you? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

Yes, we currently offer a vaccination card holder. – Tana Taylor. 8/22/21

I’ve wondered the same; it seems as though no one is requiring the card to be seen for any purpose, so I’m not sure that consumers would see a reason to carry a holder. – Lauren. 8/20/21 

No, we are not, but what a great idea! Who is the vendor? – Nancy Collins, Volunteer Services Manager, London Hospital, New London, NH. 8/18/21

Hi Nancy, So sorry for the delay, I noticed them on Faire.com. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

We have been selling a clear inexpensive holder from Specialist ID. – Greg Holtgrewe, Baptist Health Paducah, Paducah, KY. 300 beds. 8/17/21


Social Media Tip: Create animated product videos like this!

Creating animated videos of your merchandise is easier than you might think, thanks to Canva. We’ve mentioned Canva in the recent four-part series on how to create an online ecommerce store.

Canva has a terrific set of intuitive, pre-formatted tools that you can use to make quick and easy content for social media posts….graphic design skills not required! Short looping videos like this one here are called GIFs.

Check back next month when we’ll show how to create a merchandise video like this one!

Canva.com

Click image to animate or view in browser.



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AUGUST 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #621
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Rev up your holiday planning now
  • Top 10 display tips
  • SURVEY: Do you have employee payroll deduction?
  • Q. What is your current markup in this post-COVID market?
  • Promo: Summer Sizzler Father’s Day Raffle
  • Job Openings
  • Guelph General Hospital gift shop launches online store

  • Product Pick: LEGO flashlight keychains
  • Q. Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?
  • Marketing Tip: Motivate hospital employees to shop
  • Social Media Example: Dot Sale Promotion
  • RESPONSES: What are some good plant vendors?
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, Stanford, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

I am currently working on launching an online store. It has been several months in the making but this topic came up at the best time and has helped me so much with all the other shops providing information, tips and tricks. I will be look in to purchasing a photo box and using canva! I have saved all the previous articles to continually reference. Thank you to everyone for all the great information that has been provided. – Sarah, 7/30/21

Hi Sarah, we’re happy to hear that the article was helpful! Please let us know how the launch of your online store goes. On the interim, let us know what issues you run into…or questions. I’ll answer what I can and put it out for comment in the next issue. Good luck! – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store and online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | August 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


AUGUST 15, 2021


Rev up your holiday planning now

12 Month Action Plan for Hospital Gift Shops
Twelve-Month Action Plan for Hospital Gift Shops

It’s time to begin developing your holiday buying and marketing plan! Retailing is like gardening. You must plant the seeds in the fall for blooming sales during the holiday season. You need to plan for those sales; they don’t just happen by themselves.

  • Create announcements for exciting holiday merchandise, special sales, and promos right now, when you have time.
  • Outline your schedule for the announcements in hospital publications, social media, and website. Then, in the frenzy of the season, you just have to more-or-less execute it.
  • All summer merchandise goes on clearance NOW!
  • Integrate cross-merchandising into displays.
  • Begin displaying higher-priced holiday merchandise and Christmas collectibles.
  • Begin displaying Halloween merchandise NOW!
  • Order and display next year’s calendars and datebooks.
  • Mark down slow selling merchandise to acquire space for just-arriving items.
  • Request that all staff and volunteers indicate when they will be out of town during the holidays.  Ensure that their job responsibilities are covered while they are gone.

Check out Cindy’s Twelve-Month Action Plan for Gift Shop Managers and Buyers!

UPCOMING 2021 HOLIDAYS

September
Sep 6 – Labor Day
Sep 12 – Grandparents Day
Sep 22 – First Day of Fall
Sep 7 – Rosh Hashanah
October
Oct 10 – Handbag Day
Oct 11 – Columbus Day
Sep 15 – Yom Kippur
Oct 16 – Boss’s Day
Oct 16 – Sweetest Day
Oct 31 – Halloween
November
Nov 11 – Veterans Day
Nov 25 – Thanksgiving
Nov 26 – Black Friday
Nov 28 – Hanukkah Begins
Nov 29 – Cyber Monday
December
Dec 4 – National Sock Day
Dec 6 – Hanukkah Ends
Dec 25 – Christmas
Dec 31 – New Year’s Eve

Product Pick: LEGO flashlight keychains

Here’s a fun product for your gift shop from one of the world’s most beloved brands, LEGO! The fully posable, officially licensed LEGO minifigure flashlight keychains are for LEGO fans of all ages. Push a button on the character’s belly to activate bright LED lights in the feet. Batteries are included. The keychain lights shown here are available in eye-catching 16-count counter displays to make merchandising easy. These are great for hospital gift shops and can brighten the way for patients and medical professionals. They are available from Santoki, the exclusive US distributor of LEGO licensed LED lights. Contact Nikki at nikki@santoki.com to order.


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Top 10 display tips

by Michelle Sherrier / GiftShop Mag, Spring, 2021

I consider myself a creative curator. Spending the last 41 years in retail, I have learned a lot about merchandising and design. Between seven years at the iconic Fred Segal to another seven years at the mecca of retail, Anthropologie, I was able to hone my eye and business sense alike, and grow a deeper understanding of the intricacies of retail and the key role visual merchandising plays. Here are my “Top 10 Tips” that I learned along the way!

#1 WHEN IN DOUBT COLOR IT OUT

I know you know what I’m talking about…you just finished re-working your shelving unit and it looks chaotic…a lot of merchandise; some of it works together, a lot of it doesn’t. This is where this rule of thumb comes in handy. Try pulling together items by color. The color on label, maybe it’s the packaging or the product, you will see a common thread. Start pulling them together, little by little you will see it come to life. I often start with my groups and then start shopping the store for more that will create a more impactful statement.

#2 MERCHANDISE BY CONCEPT

The cohesiveness you see at Anthropologie is very deliberate. Merchandising by concept creates an impactful statement while telling a visual story. Our “Camp Concept” was a combination of books, Pendleton inspired games and campfire scented candles. Props to embellish your concept can be anything from tree slices as risers to an oversized marshmallow on a twig (they dry beautifully, by the way).

#3 BINNING

Bin “smalls” like lip balm, loose crystals, small books, and jewelry on cards in glass jars. A lot of vendors ship smalls in “displayable” case packs. I prefer to take them out of the packaging. By placing them in a glass jar, basket, or bowl you add value to the item and make them look so much more important and inviting.

#4 THE HARDWARE STORE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND

Take a walk through a hardware store. There are so many things that are cost effective that create amazing risers, backdrops and displays. We created multi-levels for a jewelry case out of 2×4’s that have been cut different sizes and sanded down. I liked them raw but a coat of paint or stain would give them a whole new life.

#5 DON’T TREAT YOUR WINDOW LIKE A GARAGE SALE

Pick a theme, color or category. A lot of people think “more is better” but in the case of windows, putting everything you sell into a small window isn’t better, it’s just busier. The other rule of thumb is, never leave a mannequin undressed or without hair in the window. This should go without saying but I see it all too often. No hair? No problem! Throw a scarf on her head for a chic look or a hat. Just don’t leave her bald.

Read the other five display tips — #6 Show Items as You Would Use It; #7 Get Inspired; #8 Cross Merchandising; #9 Risers, Think Outside the Box; and #10 Lifestyle Props — in GiftShop Mag.

Stanford University Gift Shop
Stanford Health Care Gift Shop

SOURCE: Gift Shop Mag, Spring 2021


SURVEY: Do you have employee payroll deduction?

Do you have employee payroll deduction?

Employee payroll deduction can account for up to 40-50% of shop sales. The swipe of a badge is much easier than carrying around cash or a credit card, especially for hospital employees who are popping in while on break. Employees appreciate the convenience of buying without cash up front and interest-free! It’s all about removing barriers to sale and bringing value to your hospital employee’s lives by making the buying process quick and easy.

 

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Take your gift shop to the next level!
Ask for a FREE copy of our “Hospital Gift Shops:
Tips for Success” booklet.

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Q. What is your current markup in the post-COVID market?

Q. Wondering what your markup is on items right now? We have been limited to mostly our hospital staff as shoppers and are noticing a decline in sales. Thank you! – Gina Richmond, Sunshine Gift Shop Unity Point Hospital, Dubuque, IA. 126 beds. 8/10/21.

FROM CINDY

Gina, markups should remain the same! Do not change your markups! Once COVID is gone and life and retailing get back to normal, you will want to go back to your usual markups and pricing standards, but then your customers will walk out saying ‘everything is overpriced in the gift shop’!

If you are not taking at least a keystone markup (50% above wholesale) plus shipping on most of your merchandise, it is unlikely that your shop is profitable. Hospital gift shops cannot make a profit on an initial 2x times mark on plus shipping. After mark downs, the gross margin is reduced even more. Profitability is based on many things but one of the most important is markup.

Instead, look for hidden opportunities to earn a little extra profit. Consider buying merchandise at closeout or negotiating discounts on your purchases. Some items will need to be marked down because they are slow sellers. However, discounting everything, such as a “20% off everything” sale, is not recommended. Keep in mind, a mark down is the most important tool a retailer has to move a mistake out the door. We all make buying mistakes. It happens with the best buyers! Buying a bad style, wrong colors, wrong sizes, wrong timing, too many, bad fit, etc. Just don’t fret, recognize mistakes early and mark down immediately!

STANDARD MARKUPS BY CATEGORY

GIFTS, TOYS, APPAREL, CARDS, PLUSH, BABY, ACCESSORIESCANDY, SUNDRIES
Double price + 6-10% for shipping 
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.5 or more
30-33% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.4 or more
**Higher for specialty candy
JEWELRYFLOWERS
60-70% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 2.4 or more
**Most jewelry comes pre-priced.
33-35% markup
🎯 Formula: cost x 1.5 or more
What is your current markup right now, post-COVID? <– Click to comment!

What’s your take on markups right now? Give back. Do your part. Sharing is caring. Leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

PROMO: Summer Sizzler Father’s Day Raffle

Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO recently shared a terrific Father’s Day promo event that she’s held since 2010. She said the staff really look forward to. We know timing isn’t right, be it end of summer, but we wanted to be sure and share it. Archive the article and set a reminder on your calendar for Spring! Huge thanks to Ginger for sharing this great sale idea!

“At the end of the season or on Black Friday I purchase some sort of a grill plus a table and chairs set, fire pit, etc. We then sell raffle tickets from Memorial Day through the Friday before Father’s Day. The raffle tickets are sold in-store and over email. The price of the tickets varies year to year based on what we offer. This year, since we have two stores plus some items stocked up after being closed last year, we offered two different options – one for each store location. Tickets can be purchased for one or both locations.  The email for tickets made up about 50% of our sales.  Here’s what we offered: 

Summer Sizzler Prize #1
$3.00 each or 2 for $5.00

  • Pit Boss Pellet Smoker ($198 Wal-Mart. Basically $0 using Sam’s Club cash back from candy purchases)
  • Patio Heater  ($87 Menards. Black Friday sale)
  • Jack and Jill Table & Chairs ($99)
  • Two bags of flavored pellets ($10 Wal-Mart)

Summer Sizzler Prize #2
$2.00 each or 3 for $5.00

  • 3 piece bistro table chairs (close out $59.00)
  • Stainless Steel Fire Pit ($27 Wal-Mart. End-of-season sale plus Sam’s cash back)

When you factor in the Sam’s Club cash-back, total promo expense were around $255 resulting in total sales of $3,757 – even with limited COVID hours at 40 hrs per week. We change it up sometimes with a charcoal grill, gas, or combination depending on what’s the best deal available at the time.

We also offer tickets for a large TV (60” or more) following Christmas for Super Bowl. The cost is around $200-$300 on Black Friday. It is successful, but not as much as the Father’s Day event, probably because it’s too close to Christmas.” – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, CoxHealth, Springfield, MO


Job Openings

Volunteer Services and Retail Gift Shop Manager
MelroseWakefield Healthcare, Medford, MA

Gift Shop Manager
SSMHealth DePaul Hospital – St. Louis, Bridgeton, MO

Gift Shop Manager
Christian Health, Wyckoff, NJ

Gift Shop Assistant Manager
Milford Regional Medical Center, Milford, MA

Gift Shop Coordinator
Munson Medical Center, Traverse City, MI

Gift Shop Manager
Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA

Gift Shop Retail Manager
Adventist Health System, Tampa, FL

Gift Shop Manager
Univ of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA

Gift Shop Manager
Blessed Sacrament, Scottsdale, AZ

Store Manager
Jefferson Torresdale Hospital, Philadelphia, PA

Associate Manager
The Ohio State University Hospital, Columbus, OH

Gift Shop Manager
Joseph-Beth Gift Shop, Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, OH


Guelph General Hospital gift shop launches online store

GuelphToday.com / Jul 25, 2021


Courtyard Boutique
Guelph General Hospital, Ontario
Website: gghcourtyardboutique.ca
Hospital referring page
Ecommerce: SquareSpace
POS: Stripe
Facebook Page
Instagram Page

Friends and family members of patients at Guelph General Hospital can now shop online and have gifts delivered right to their loved ones’ hospital room. The Hospital’s volunteer-run Courtyard Boutique recently launched its new online gift shop.

“The online boutique seems to be blossoming,” said Erica Bite, Retail Manager of the Courtyard Boutique. “We have made more than a dozen patient deliveries which are from the patients themselves or family and friends gifting to a patient. The deliveries are brought to patients by a staff member and packaged up for them in a way that always seems to put a smile on their faces. One of our patients let us know that they were happy for the inpatient deliveries because they were able to satisfy their sweet tooth rather quickly.”

Items available at the online gift shop include a variety of gifts for adults, children, new parents and newborn babes, flowers and foil balloons. Personal care items are also available such as contact lens solution, ear plugs, lip balm, gifts and batteries. Mints, gum, chocolate, candy and other snacks can also be added to the gift packages (if permitted in a patient’s nutrition plan).

Same-day delivery is available weekdays if the order is made prior to 1 p.m. No weekend deliveries are available at this time. Deliveries are made right to the patient’s room or to the nursing station if the patient is in isolation. The Courtyard Boutique is located in the hospital’s main lobby. The GGH Volunteer Association Board has been meeting remotely to develop the on-line gift shop. “We hope this new service will make it easier for friends and family to support their loved ones while the Hospital has visitor restrictions in place,” said John Steggles, Board Chair, GGH Volunteer Association. “When visitor restrictions are lifted, the online boutique may remain as a permanent service if we find people are making good use of it.” To visit GGH’s Courtyard Boutique online store, go to www.gghcourtyardboutique.ca

Click image to expand

SOURCE: Guelph Today


Q. Is anyone selling vaccination card holders/protectors?

I just ran across vaccination card holder/protectors, and it made me wonder if anyone has tried them and how they sell for you? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT. 289 beds. 7/15/21

Are you selling vaccination card holders/protectors? If so, who’s your vendor?

Do you find the comments helpful? Then do your part and leave your comment here or at the bottom of the newsletter. It takes a team!

Thank you!


Click to expand image

Marketing Tip: Tap into what motivates hospital employees

Hospital employees often say their main motivation to shop in the gift shop is to keep money in the hospital to support patients and for medical equipment. It matters to them that each purchase they make helps promote excellent patient care.

Remind your shoppers of this regularly with frequent messaging across social media, your website, at the register and other marketing mediums. Here is some sample language from Sprout Gift Shop.


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Social Media Example: Dot Sale Promo

Here’s a great example of marketing a Dot Sale on social media from the White Rose Gift Shop’s Facebook Page. Bright colors, seasonal graphics, catchy and succinct language. Plus, a link to the shop’s online gift shop!

Click image to enlarge


JULY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #619
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 4. Creating an Online Store:
    • Full and partially outsourced options
    • Getting help pro bono
    • Student volunteer, intern, work study
    • Ecommerce agency, developer, freelancers
    • Bundled ecommerce and POS services
    • Ecommerce managed services
    • Online resources and tools

  • Summer action list
  • How does loss occur
  • What is ‘Open to Buy’?
  • Merchandise mix Scratch-off card promotion (DIY Tutorial)
  • Protocol for reinstating volunteers
  • Plant vendors
  • Customer reward/loyalty programs
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Not sure what kind of plants you’re looking for, but a few years ago we ordered succulents wholesale from this nursery in Florida, Morning Dew Tropical Plants, for a succulent bar. They were great to work with and plants arrived in fantastic shape. Morning Dew Tropical Plants morningdewtropical.com – Shea Fowler, Unity Point


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, Stanford, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

I am currently working on launching an online store. It has been several months in the making but this topic came up at the best time and has helped me so much with all the other shops providing information, tips and tricks. I will be look in to purchasing a photo box and using canva! I have saved all the previous articles to continually reference. Thank you to everyone for all the great information that has been provided. – Sarah, 7/30/21

Hi Sarah, we’re happy to hear that the article was helpful! Please let us know how the launch of your online store goes. On the interim, let us know what issues you run into…or questions. I’ll answer what I can and put it out for comment in the next issue. Good luck! – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store and online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | July 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


JULY 15, 2021


Summer action list

Having a prosperous holiday season takes planning and time. Use the extra time now, during the hot summer months to put your plan in action.

  • Order stuffed animals for November delivery to raffle off during the Christmas holidays.  
  • Order next year’s calendars and date books now.
  • Holiday merchandise that you ordered in January should begin coming in.
  • Attend a local or major gift show.
  • Thoroughly clean and organize the shop and stockroom while business is slow. Now is the time to take markdowns and get rid of old merchandise.
  • This is also a good time to take an inventory of your wrap supplies. Order enough tissue and bags to last through the holidays.
  • Take mid-year physical inventory to determine your in-stock position.
  • Hold an Employee Appreciation Sale for employees. Offer 20% off all items over $10. This is a great way to say “thank you” to your loyal hospital employees.
  • Ensure that all your wall space is utilized. Wall art and décor can be a lucrative category for your shop.
  • Develop fall merchandise and displays.
  • Be merciless with markdowns. Before you put your merchandise back on the shelf, consult your sales reports. Each product should have to justify its existence coming into the Fall. If it doesn’t make the grade, add it to your Labor Day sale pile.


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you need in an easy-to-use solution with automated
payroll deduction capabilities, contactless payment,
and reliable customer support!

Transitioning from your current POS system

is fast, easy, and affordable.

800-348-5545
www.mmhayes.com/giftshopPOS


Creating an Online Store | Part 4: Getting help, outsourcing, resources

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / July 15, 2021

This is the last of a four-part series on starting an online store for hospital gift shops. In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we discussed pros and cons, practical considerations, the planning process, costs, software selection, setting up and populating the website, as well as policies and fulfillment. Here, in Part 4, we’ll explore alternative options when presented with obstacles like an all-volunteer staff, lack of technical know-how, time constraints, or budget limitations.

While the benefits of having an online store are clear, it might not be feasible for every shop. Who will manage the ecommerce software and website? Can orders be filled in a timely manner? How will online vs in-store sales be coordinated for inventory? These and other considerations outlined in Part 1 need to be taken into account. 

But, even if you have minimal technical knowledge, lack the time, or have an all-volunteer shop, there are still ways to launch a successful online store. We’ll discuss outsourcing options, where to find help, free resources, and tips for overcoming these obstacles.

Get help getting started

Many find that the largest challenge when starting an online store is the initial setup. Many assume they don’t have the technical knowledge (though, not much is needed with today’s Q&A setups). You can take a test run for free on Shopify, no credit card required. It’s hands-down the easiest way to set up an online store. The step-by-step process that will take about 20 minutes. You can even enter dummy answers. This is just a chance to look around.

If you still feel overwhelmed find someone to build your online store for you. We’ll explore paid and unpaid options for outsourcing the initial setup. Once the site is launched, you’ll find it’s fairly easy to operate. The most popular DIY ecommerce platforms are intuitive, straight forward, and user-friendly.

Pro bono help: students, volunteer, professional advisor

Contact your local university or high school to ask about creating a student work study position, internship, or student volunteer to setup your webstore. Reach out to faculty in the marketing and IT departments to recommend student freelancers, a local agency or other ideas. Student volunteers are also great at creating social media posts, photographing products, and developing other marketing materials.

🎯 TIP: Always use guest logins and passwords to secure your site and address student turn-over.

Establish a dedicated Gift Shop Ecommerce Volunteer position for your online operations. Again, seek out local college students or retired IT professionals. A sample job posting might look like the following.

Gift Shop Ecommerce Volunteer

  • Oversees and post product listings to ecommerce sales platform. Ensures it is visually appealing, easy to navigate, accessible, accurate and up-to-date.
  • Locates product information and write descriptions for online using inclusive language, consistency of tone and vigilance in regards to cultural appropriation.
  • Photograph products and upload to website.
  • Coordinates with the inventory manager to ensure accurate inventory to prevent overselling.
  • Respond to incoming emails and requests for help.
  • Drive traffic to the site via in store signage, weekly Enews feature, and social media.
  • Monitoring website for technical problems and facilitate resolution.
  • Manage ecommerce software, troubleshoot problems, and make changes.
  • Assist with inventory maintenance.

If budget allows, hire a non-exempt, part-time Ecommerce Associate for 24-25 hours per week at $15 – $20 per hour, depending on experience.

Commerce4Good is a group of ecommerce experts that donate time to help small businesses launch their businesses digitally. Commerce4Good has a network of more than 100 volunteer ecommerce experts that can help set up a website, ecommerce shopping cart, or troubleshoot issues. They can also provide guidance on driving traffic, accepting payments, or shipping. Schedule a 30 minute appointment to introduce yourself and your business and they’ll assign a volunteer member to address your needs. Services are 100% pro bono. You can also look for similar a NPO/NGO local to your area.

Paid help: agency, freelancer, web designer

Depending on your needs and budget, consider outsourcing the store setup and launch to an ecommerce agency or freelancer. Once the store is up and running, you’ll be fully equipped to begin selling, while having them on call for questions, changes, or maintenance. Avoid huge agencies with big fees. You need someone to setup the basic pre-programmed online store package from your ecommerce platform, with minimal to zero tweaks or customizations. An out-of-the-box, standard store configuration from a platform like Shopify is perfectly sufficient for small business needs. We also recommend hiring US-based professionals and request a project-based fee structure versus “per hour”. Slow freelancers can run up hours and, subsequently, costs.

Ask colleagues in your IT, communications, and marketing departments to recommend an agency or freelancer with ecommerce expertise. Request recommendations from friends, family or even on Facebook. The popular software companies also provide lists of agencies and freelancers:

You might be able to hire your ecommerce company directly to setup and launch your online store. For example, the launch coaching package at BigCommerce costs at $499 for the Starter Package and up to $2,999 for the Enterprise Package.  

Finally, agencies like Ecomitize, Redhead Labs, and Atmosol work with you on software selection, backend setup, web design, and integrations. Ideally, look for one that is certified with the larger ecommerce companies. Note that agencies can be pricey and may not be ideal for shops on a budget. Basic Shopify Setup from Atmosol starts at $7,000. Ecomitize specializes in ecommerce websites for gift shops across a range of platforms including Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and BigCommerce. Their basic Shopify setup is around $4000 – $5000. Ecomitize also offers Ecommerce Managed Services for ongoing support at an hourly rate $30 to help with changes or questions. It’s like having an on-call ecommerce specialist.

Look for someone who’s responsive and won’t nickel and dime you for every little change. Whoever you hire, require a detailed outline of their deliverables, up front. You need them to simply advise, setup, and launch the online store, after which ongoing management and operations are turned over to you.

We’d love to help you launch your online store and accelerate your gift shop to the next level. Our starting rate for a basic Gift Shop Ecommerce Setup on Shopify is $3,500. Contact Nicole at Cindy Jones Associates to learn more.

🎯 TIP Setup up all your software accounts (e.g., ecommerce, hosting, domain) with your own name, email, address, login/password and credit card. Do not let the freelancer or agency use their own information. You should always be the primary account owner / administrator. Anyone needing access outside your organization can use a guest/admin login. This gives you full control and guaranteed access to these accounts. In the event of turnover or soured relations, you can remove users and readily secure your online operations.

It may be beneficial to contact your POS company for help adding an online store. They may offer this service for a fee, but again, watch the costs. Alternatively, some POS platforms have bundled ecommerce functionality. The online store module is native to the system and does not require integration with a third-party ecommerce software. For example, Square POS offers Square Online. It includes software, hosting and domain for $12/mo (Professional plan) and works with Square hardware products to provide seamless inventory integration. Lightspeed offers Lightspeed eCom, with full ecommerce functionality, bundled with their POS. Shopify POS includes both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar sale functionality for unifying in-store and online sales bundled for around $168.00 per month. Revel, Vend, Wix, Magento, and Miva POS all offer a built-in ecommerce module.

Outsourcing your online store: full and partial

Fully outsourced online store

Another option is to completely outsource your online store to an outside company where it is hosted, managed, and serviced externally in exchange for a percentage of profits. This is a viable option for all-volunteer shops or those with limited space for inventory. We are aware of only one company, Hospital Gift Shop Inc., that provides this service.

Hospital Gift Shop Inc. can customize each online shop to the specific needs of the facility, including product pricing and selection. They partner with local flower vendors to fulfill orders, plus national vendors like Edible Arrangements, Burt’s Bees, Melissa & Doug and more. Shops can also bring their own inventory online, along with selections from local or other off-site vendors. Order fulfillment, returns, and exchanges are controlled by the company. Not all items are available for same-day delivery and many products are drop shipped for home delivery only. Hospital Gift Shop (hospitalgiftshop.com), is a Healthy Commerce company with more than 550 hospitals under contract.

Partially outsourced: online store with drop shipping

A hybrid, partially outsourced model utilizes a drop shipping supplier. Product is sold through your shop’s online store but fulfillment is outsourced to a dropship company. This enables you to run an ecommerce store without warehousing inventory, managing fulfillment, or paying large upfront costs for stock. Instead, when you make a sale, the order is sent to the supplier, fulfilled, and shipped to your customer. You select and add the merchandise to your online store via an easy app integration. You can continue to sell your in-store inventory alongside drop ship products, as well.

As an example, Spocket has a colossal marketplace to peruse; there are literally tens of thousands of products. You can order sample products to verify quality, test speed of delivery, and take your own product photos. Spocket is compatible with Shopify and WooCommerce. Customers usually receive orders between 2-5 days. Product categories include apparel, jewelry, accessories, bath and beauty, home and garden, kids and babies, electronics, toys, gaming and computing. Products come with discounts between 30-60% off their retail pricing, which allows for a healthy profit margin. Spocket’s Starter Plan is $24 per month and entitles you sell up to 25 products, unlimited number of orders, auto fulfillment, real-time order tracking, shipping tracking numbers for all shipments and more. Their Pro Plan for $49 per month ($29/month/annually) allows 250 product imports and Empire Plan for $99 per month ($79/month/annually) allows unlimited products.

Like Spocket, Oberlo helps you find and add products directly into your Shopify store that you can start selling right away. They handle inventory, packaging, and shipping the product to your customer. Other popular drop ship companies listed here include Printful and Doba. We do not recommend AliExpress or Alibaba. eComitize can setup Spocket on your ecommerce site for $500 – $1000.

The pros include expanded product offerings, less overhead and inventory, no shipping materials, tools, fees, and easy to scale or change direction. The cons: You outsource a big chunk of your customer satisfaction. If anything goes wrong with the product or shipping, the customer still blames you. Returns can be problematic. More sales means potentially more customer support.

Sprocket

Additional Resources

How to Create, Setup, and Launch a Profitable Online Store (Seriously) Scroll down for article (“Chapter 9”)

Video: How to Start an Online Store (Watch Us Build One)  

How to Start an Online Store with Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setup Checklist

Storetasker for hiring Shopify specialists who apply for your job. Similar to platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com but fully focused on Shopify


What questions, solutions, or challenges do you have with an online store?

Do you have an online store? Do you want one? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

How does loss occur

by Cindy Jones, Editor 💮

We have noticed a lot of theft recently. We do not have cameras surveilling our shop but we do have enough volunteer staff that are now being trained to watch for theft. They, however, say they are not volunteering to watch for thieves, but to help patients, visitors and hospital staff. We understand that, however, our shop’s losses are increasing. We have signs that say, ‘Shoplifters will be prosecuted” but they never are. Just my opinion but I think most of our shoplifting is from hospital employees. Any suggestions besides an expensive surveillance system. – Sarah James, Rochester, MI 5/19/21

Most loss occurs in three categories: internal theft, external theft and through errors. Here are some brief descriptions of each category:

Employee theft
Employee theft is the largest contributor to loss for most retailers, regardless of size or segment. Although some may wonder why employee theft would be the largest category of loss, hands down, every survey, study and comparison across segments has shown time and time again that those who steal from a business the most are employees.

Employee theft occurs through many different methods. From simple merchandise theft to collusion with friends or other shop employees, inventory losses by employees can easily deplete your profits (and the merchandise available for sale to customers). The point of sale (register) brings with it many other forms of employee theft. Simply removing money from the till to elaborate “conversion frauds” that include refund, void or discount thefts, point of sale theft can often cause a “double-dip effect” where you lose money and inventory simultaneously through a single incident.

Customer Shoplifting
External theft is caused by shoplifting. Although it does not cause as much loss overall compared to internal theft, shoplifting and external theft most certain causes a substantial amount of loss annually to the retail industry. Controlling external theft requires a commitment to educating your employees and volunteers on good customer service, awareness to the signs of a potential loss and how to best protect the shop and inventory against external loss.

The last major area of caused loss in the retail environment is through Errors. Often considered paperwork errors, these mistakes can contribute upwards of over 15%-20% of a retailer’s annual loss. Ironically, most of the errors seen in retail are employee-caused, thereby making a retailer’s employee perhaps the highest contributor to the business loss every year!

Operating Errors
Errors can occur anywhere – from checking in shipments, to ringing on the register or transferring merchandise. These errors can include the inaccurate counting of merchandise to the improper discounting or accounting of a sale or tender. Simple mistakes caused over and over again have resulted in thousands of dollars lost to a single shop.

Inventory shrinkage is the difference between what booked inventory shows should be on hand and what a physical inventory confirms is actually there. The value of missing inventory is called shrinkage. Shrinkage can be calculated as a percentage of booked inventory.

Consequences of shrinkage
Keeping an eye on shrinkage can mean the difference between profit and loss. Even “typical” shrinkage carries a significant cost. If you operate a shop on a 10 percent profit margin and you lose an item priced at $2, you will have to generate an additional $20 in sales to make up the loss.

The National Retail Federation reports that retail shrinkage—a loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, paperwork errors, or supplier fraud — is 1.41% of retail sales.

  • Employee theft, accounts for 43.9% of total losses.
  • Shoplifting accounts for approximately 35.7% of total losses.
  • Administrative errors accounts for 12.1% of shrinkage and pricing mistakes.
  • Vendor fraud accounts for 5.0% of shrinkage

Hospital gift shops are thought to have higher losses (2%+) but shops that install security cameras can reduce that figure.

 

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Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?

We have an in-house floral design shop that is operated and staffed by volunteers. It is something that we love and are proud of! We are wondering how many other hospitals have an in house, on campus flower shop, and if so, what is their greatest success? We are interested in growing our operation. – Michaela Kanoski, CHI Health CUMC Bergan Mercy Hospital, Omaha, NE. 400 beds. 6/17/21

Yes. Our floral department is run by a paid staff person with more than 30yrs experience. Based on our volume and the inventory aspects, it would be challenging to run with 100% volunteers. Our greatest success is the ability to adapt to the many request we receive. In addition, we do many special request items for the hospital (events, awards, etc…) – Jeff Morris, Mercy Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA. 6/22/21

I do not have an in-house floral shop, but use a local one to stock our flower cooler. I am wondering if anyone can share a wholesale plant company? I have thought about carrying live, potted plants in our shop to sell as an alternative to fresh cut flowers as well as to enhance the aesthetics of our shop and merchandise. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 6/21/21

We do have an in house floral shop. It is very limited on display space and storage but we manage to do well with mixed floral vases in the $30-$40 range and bud vases and smaller items under $20. We receive a lot of donated vases which helps with the cost. The hospital staff will bring in vases as they accumulate them. Occasionally I will put a reminder for customers that we are accepting them up on our whiteboard in the shop behind the cash register. – Doris Bowman, Wooster Community Hospital, Wooster, OH. 135 beds. 6/17/21

We do not have an in-house floral shop. Just don’t have the space. However, we do provide very small arrangements created by volunteers for customers. Product is usually donated by local stores and florists. – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 6/17/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

We do not have an in house florist. I call and order flowers from a local florist when needed. I offer 5 price points of flowers so there is a nice variety in my floral cooler. – Kim DeBord. Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 300 beds. 6/16/21

No, a local florist stocks our cooler twice a week. – Mary, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI. 1043 beds. 6/16/21


What is ‘Open to Buy’?

Open-To-Buy is the amount of money you have to spend on new inventory in any given period. By controlling your budget, you will be able to identify when you are “over bought” or when you need to spend more to achieve your sales plan.

A helpful strategy is to identify those vendors that ship quickly. Then you can place small orders and reorder frequently. This will keep your inventory quantities manageable and increase your stock turn. I recommend ordering a one-month supply since consumer tastes change so rapidly. Your risk will be lower. You must control your inventory rather than tie up valuable dollars if the item doesn’t sell.

On the other hand, it is not good to run out of popular items. Yes, it is a delicate balancing act!


Merchandise mix

Does your existing merchandise need attention? It may meet some of the hospital employee’s needs, but is it missing the boat with others? Work to offer a full-service mini-department store.

The hospital employees’ perception of the shop’s merchandise is crucial. If employees see a consistent flow of new and exciting merchandise, both seasonal and everyday, they will stop by on their breaks and lunch hours to shop. Instead of just purchasing gum, candy or a magazine, they will make significant purchases.

Work to avoid one-of-a-kind items or separate “things” (left-over bits and pieces of groups). Aim for groupings of related items that make a merchandising statement. Markdowns need to be taken in a timely way to ensure that old merchandise doesn’t accumulate.

The inventory must remain fresh and up-to-date. When inventory is new and responding to customer needs and interests, it will sell. The shop must consistently have the right merchandise at the right time and for the right price. This will build customer confidence and trust. The employees will know they can find what the want and need at fair-market prices.

When new merchandise arrives, watch it closely. If it is selling fast, respond to it immediately. Reorders are the ‘bread and butter’ of a successful gift shop.

The most tragic three words uttered in a hospital gift shop is “Sorry, we’re out.” Those words say, ‘Sorry, we can’t handle your business.’ For a busy hospital employee, this could mean their last trip to the hospital gift shop.

Merchandise that has not sold after 6-10 weeks should be put on sale. The exception to this is higher priced gift items, which may take longer to sell. Watch the dates on merchandise to ensure that merchandise doesn’t sit around long.


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Clear out stale inventory: Scratch-off card promotion (DIY Tutorial)

by Kathy Cruz, Savvy Shopkeeper

January tends to be the month where retailers refresh their shops. But the pandemic really changed things over the past year, so now it’s Q3 of 2021 and you might find yourself sitting on some stale inventory. You know, that merchandise that just isn’t moving – you either haven’t had enough foot traffic or the seasons have passed.

Over the past year many shops had their doors closed for an extended period of time, and even if you did open, foot traffic might have been low which means inventory moved much slower than usual. It’s understandable under the circumstances. Don’t feel like you’re alone, many store owners experienced this too!

We all know that retail space is valuable real estate so it’s important to keep merchandise fresh and new, especially for our loyal and regular customers who visit frequently. Under normal circumstances we often practice these traditional ways for clearing out stale inventory:

  1. First, re-merchandise
  2. Bundle it or offer a discount
  3. Host an in-store blowout sale
  4. List on an online marketplace
  5. Take items to a consignment shop or list with an auction site
  6. Donate it

But, sometimes it’s fun to do something different. Customers appreciate “fun” too! Now that restrictions are being lifted and foot traffic is increasing again, it’s time to get creative! 

Hosting a scratch-off card promotion is a great way to not only be creative, but have fun with your customers AND clear out old merchandise at the same time. Everyone loves a scratch-off card! The element of surprise is just too good to pass up. Scratch-off card promotions pull on our emotions. Once you’ve got one in your hands it’s hard to resist the curiosity to find out what’s under the panel!

DIY scratch-off card promotion

I created an easy DIY tutorial for store owners, so you can make these budget-friendly cards yourself. You don’t have to pay a designer or a printer to accomplish this. Simply decide what your discounts or promotion will be first. For example, you can offer cards with discounts of 5%, 10%, and 15% off.  But you can also have two big winners at 25% off. Or maybe one or two lucky winners receive a free basket of items! You can make these decisions based on the stock you have and how much you want to push out of the store. Click HERE to follow the tutorial. 

The whole experience of playing a scratch card is a positive one – especially if you set your customer up to win no matter which card they grab! I have two membership communities filled with store owners who have used the scratch-off card promotion and often tell me how successful their store event was because of it and equally important, how much their customers loved it. I want to see you succeed and this means keeping your store filled with fresh merchandise. Getting a cash injection from a scratch-off card promotion can give you just the budget you need to buy new products for your gift shop.

Kathy Cruz, co-founded The Salvaged Boutique, a home décor boutique. in 2013 with her sister. The endeavor started with a DIY blog, a few social media accounts, and a little determination. It only took Kathy and her sister 18 months of running their online business to realize they wanted to do something more with it and opened their brick and mortar location in Lakewood, Ohio. Kathy watched her passion grow from a fun blog and hobby with her sister on the side of her full-time job to a profitable brick and mortar home decor store. During this time, she saw the need for an online resource where retail business owners could find community and education. So she took it upon herself to create Savvy Shopkeeper, a podcast and services for micro-independent retailers. From full time job to full time entrepreneur, Kathy now helps hundreds of retailers work less and profit more, while running a store herself.


Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?

Our gift shop is currently closed and will be opening in August. What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers? Do they have to show their vaccine card? What other steps are necessary? – John Klos, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services. Saint Francis Health System, Tulsa OK. 6/12/21

Since ours were out over a year, I had to re-orient them all. It was too many at once, so instead of putting this on HR, I booked a conference room and offered 3 sessions and lead orientation for them. It took about an hour and a half to get through the Joint Commission requirements. We are not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, but if they have it we put it on file in the Health Office. – Ali McCrary, Volunteer Services, Gift Shop and Auxiliary Manager at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, IN. 6/25/21

Our volunteers are being phased in: first gift shop volunteers, escorts then OR Waiting room volunteers. Each group attends a very short meeting where COVID protocols for their role is described, infection prevention reviewed and any changes in their role due to COVID. – Ann Bergmann, Volunteer Coordinator, Cumberland Healthcare, Cumberland, WI, 25 beds. 6/22/21

We have a “re-orientation” our volunteers have to attend as well as provide proof of vaccination. The training includes new sanitizing protocols, changes made to procedures due to COVID-19, etc. – Christie Delbridge 6/22/21

At St. Vincent Healthcare our volunteers must be vaccinated, sign a waiver and wear hospital issued mask during their volunteer shift, of course this is in addition to all other records and training/ signature requirements as well. A copy of their COVID vaccination records is not required, nor do we add a photocopy to their records, I guess you would call it the honor system?  – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 6/21/21

All volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated prior to their return. Possible phased in return beginning in July.  – Peter Waugh, Memorial Hospital, North Conway, NH. 25 beds. 6/17/21

Our volunteers are not required to have the vaccine. I do ask for a copy of their card in case the hospital requires tracking. Most do not mind. Before they return I conduct an annual review with them and re-introduce them to the area. Many returning volunteers did not need retraining but if there were significant changes I did arrange for someone to be with the returning volunteer. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Our volunteers are not required to have the vaccine, however, they are encouraged to have it. Our hospital is still mask on so that helps but our Volunteer Services Department works with volunteers and encourages everyone to be vaccinated. To my knowledge, no one has refused. I reopened a year ago to reduced hours so that helps in bringing back volunteers. For the most part, everyone was very excited to come back, I had a few that declined returning. I changed the shifts due to the hours and it seems to be flowing nicely. – Kim DeBord. Riverside Medical Center, Kankakee, IL. 300 beds. 6/16/21

We opened our Gift Shop doors May 1, 2021. We also have reduced hours. 10:00-2:00 Monday through Friday. We still only allow one visitor per patient. We highly encouraged the vaccine. We also have a COVID-19 Information sheet with a quiz that must be reviewed and signed prior to returning. We have about 2/3 of our volunteers come back so far. – Catherine Taschler, MMC-Weston, Weston, WI. 90 beds. 6/22/21

Volunteers started back in April. We had to write a plan for our protocols – that plan had to be reviewed and approved at higher levels in the organization. (Note: not all volunteers are back – only selected areas, including ours.) We are restricted as to the number of volunteers we can have – and the number of cashiers – based on current occupancy limits and social distancing. We also have the additional role of a door attendant. COVID vaccines are not required at this time, but PPE – and strict sanitation and disinfecting – are required.When entering the hospital, volunteers have to follow the same hospital requirements as an guest entering the hospital – be it questionnaires, masks, etc. – Mary, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor, MI. 1043 beds. 6/16/21


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated July 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Jul 27-29, 2021
Faire Summer Market
VIRTUAL EVENT
Aug 3-5, 2021
August Atlanta Apparel

Aug 5-11, 2021
NY NOW Digital Market Week
VIRTUAL EVENT
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

STATE AUXILIARY CONFERENCES

Oct 4-6, 2021 Council of Volunteer Services of Georgia Hospital Association (COVS-Georgia) Annual Meeting Macon, GA

Cancelled Texas Association, Directors of Volunteer Services (TADVS)

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JUNE 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #618
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 3. Creating an online store:
  • Branding and design
  • Navigation and menus
  • Product images and how to photograph
  • Shopping cart, check out, payment
  • Delivery, shipping, returns, exchanges
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel!

  • Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?
  • Tips for attending AmericasMart Atlanta Market
  • Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?
  • Featured: Twig Gift Shop
  • Job Openings
  • Q. Scrub hat vendor?
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

We have a flower business come in to deliver arrangements with an agreement that we receive a 20% commission from the flower sales. This business will also maintain or take back arrangements that do not sell. – Melina Dixon, Community Healthcare System, Hobart, IN. 225 beds. 6/16/21

Not sure what kind of plants you’re looking for, but a few years ago we ordered succulents wholesale from this nursery in Florida, Morning Dew Tropical Plants, for a succulent bar. They were great to work with and plants arrived in fantastic shape. Morning Dew Tropical Plants morningdewtropical.com – Shea Fowler, Unity Point


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

We have a punch card that I got through Vista Print. For every $5.00 spent they get a punch. It takes $100.00 to fill. Once full, they get 30% off 1 items. It works well and the employees love it. As we require a minimum of $5.00 purchase to use payroll deduct, this is another encouragement to spend at least that amount. – Ginger Taylor, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services, Springfield, MO. 6/22/21

We do punch cards for every 5$ spent they get a punch, after the card is full, 9 punches, they get 10% off one item with that card. – Ann Payne. 6/17/21

We currently have a customer loyalty program that was easy to implement through our POS (VEND). Customers are able to provide their contact information which automatically enrolls them in the loyalty program. This has been a great bonus for return customers (mainly staff) as we do not offer employee discounts. – Shellee Laubersheimer, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, CA. 2300 beds. 6/16/21

We currently utilize MM Hayes Quickcharge POS. They have a built in Loyalty system that has several options and customizations. – Shea Fowler, Unity Point. 6/16/21


ONLINE STORE

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store with online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | June 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


JUNE 15, 2021


Providence Park League Gift Shop ramps up for opening!

Providence Park League Gift Shop has been in business since 2008 and is owned and operated by the volunteers of Ascension Providence Hospital (264 beds) in Novi, MI. The shop is about 500 square feet, sits in the main lobby of the hospital and managed by Brenda Deneau. Over the years, it has supported the hospital with over $1 million dollars in donations. Volunteers have been at the center of this business since the beginning.

The shop was shuttered on March 13, 2020 and slowly reopened its doors on a part-time basis in July 2020. For the past year, sales have been minimal as the shop was only open to hospital associates during the pandemic. Volunteers are not yet on campus but they are anxious to return. As the pandemic winds down, people are making doctors appointments that have been put off for a year and that is producing some walk in traffic. According to shop manager, Brenda Deneau, “These folks are shopping!” While outsiders cannot yet come in the shop, they take phone orders and drive ups.

For the past few weeks, they have been ramping things up to get ready for shoppers!

– Created a ‘Patient Shopping Coupon’ to include in hospital room folders.
– Hired two full-time associates (both with great retail acumen).
– Expanded hours to 8am – 8pm and added weekend hours.
– Created a Facebook page called The Gift Shop Associates. Check out the video tour and other terrific product videos.
– Created a QR code for shoppers to access information while in the shop.
– Launched into the gift basket business as well! What started as an idea has now turned into a full-on niche business. Lisa Dunbar, shop coordinator, is now the master of curated gift baskets for the shop.

Special thanks to Brenda Deneau for contributing the content for this story!


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Creating an Online Store | Part 3: Design, content, images, policies

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / June 15, 2021

This is the third of our four-part series on setting up and launching and online store for your gift shop. In Part 1: Value, considerations, consumer demand of the series we looked at online consumer behavior, current demand, pre-launch planning, as well as the pros and cons of an online store. Part 2: Costs, getting started, software selection and integrations examined startup and operating costs, technical requirements, selecting an eCommerce platform, and system integrations. Here, in Part 3: Design, Content, Images, Policies we will look at designing and setting up the online store’s navigation (menus), product images, as well as policies for delivery, shipping, returns, and exchanges. Part 4 will explore options for shops that don’t have the time, resources or staff to launch an online shop.

We interviewed four shops with successful online stores for this article. We encourage you to visit them! 

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop
Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
Shellee Laubersheimer, Operations Manager
Mamta Kaur, Manager, Retail Program
Website: shcgiftshop.com
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: BigCommerce / POS: Vend

Heart Strings Gift Shop
Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
Lauren Crews, Manager and Owner
Website: shopheartstrings.com
eCommerce: Shopify / POS: Square

St. Luke’s Floral & Gifts
UnityPoint Health St Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA
Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator
Website:  unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/gift-shop-home.aspx
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: Hospital’s software / POS: Counterpoint

Sprout Gift Co.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada
Shauna Morgan, Gift Shop Manager
Website: sproutgiftco.ca
eCommerce: WooCommerce / POS: Square

A sincere thank you to all the managers we interviewed!

Other notable online shops:

White Rose Gift Shop, Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (powered by Shopify)
Cedars-Sinai Helping Hand Gift Shop (powered by Shopify)
Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop (powered by NitroSell)
Wild Rose Gift Shop, Univ of Iowa Hospitals (powered by Magento)
Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop, Ohio State Univ Hospitals
Methodist Hospital Gift Shop  (powered by Shopify)
Mercy Gift Shop, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (powered by Wix)

Branding and design

We’ve learned how an online store essentially adds another shop entrance to your business, albeit digital. It goes without saying that your website needs to look professional. Make no mistake, an amateur-looking website will drive away customers. Esthetics, layout, grammar, colors, and images all matter. Luckily, anyone can create a professional site using of templates provided by your eCommerce platform or if budget allows, hire a web designer. Do not use low-quality, amateur photos. Avoid graphics all together unless you feel confident selecting well-designed, brand related ones. You can find free professional-grade photos on Vecteezy, Pexel, Freepik and Stocksy. Use the search function and filter for “Free License”.

During setup, you’ll be prompted to set the website colors, logo and possibly fonts. The simplest route is to follow your hospital’s branding. Their name and brand recognition is already established. Build on this. Visitors should move between your webstore and the hospital webpage with a sense of familiarity and continuity. Contact the marketing department for help with these elements.

In some cases, you may decide to create a unique brand for your online store. We generally don’t recommend this path for marketing reasons, but one of the most successful shops we found is independently branded. Sprout Gift Shop is an outstanding shop and has its own brand with distinct colors, logo and design. In contrast, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop adopted the university branding, but still presents a perfectly nice page. Clearly there is no single path to success, though one will require more work.

www.sproutgiftco.ca

www.shcgiftshop.com

Navigation and menus

Navigation and menus for online webstores have two primary goals:  1) help customers find products; and 2) help customers discover products they didn’t know they wanted (e.g., add-ons, upsell). There are other purposes, such as providing policy and store info, but driving sales is primary. Follow a few simple rules for your site’s navigation:

  • Match top-level menus to your shop categories/departments
  • Model the navigation menus used by other shops in this article
  • Don’t get catchy when labeling menus. Use common terminology.
  • Keep menu labels short (e.g., use “Contact” instead of “Phone Number, Email, Hours”)

Utilize shop staff, friends, and family to test your site navigation. Lauren Crews from Heart Strings Gift Shop needed to restructure her site’s navigation after learning that shoppers were having trouble locating items. She conducted an informal survey asking family and friends, of all ages and technical know-how, to test her site. She also placed herself in the shopper’s shoes and role-played different search and browse scenarios. In addition to good site navigation, your webstore should have a robust “Search” function, backed by detailed product descriptions to power the search.

Your online store should contain the following pages, at minimum:

Shop   |   About   |   Contact   |   Shipping & Delivery   |   Returns   |   FAQ

Here are a few examples of good top-level site navigation:

Main menu
Footer menu


Product images

Poor quality images can drive away sales just the same as cluttered shelves, dusty merchandise, or disorganized displays. Luckily, you can take great website-worthy images using your smartphone. Recruit a photo-savvy staff or volunteer to help or request merchandise images from the vendor. Among the shop managers interviewed, most either photographed merchandise themselves or pulled images from vendor websites and catalogs.

Lauren Crews, Heart Strings Gift Shop, uses asks vendors for their catalog images in a .zip file, but noted that these images aren’t always relatable or realistic. She prefers lifestyle images (any image depicting people in a life-related activity) because shoppers can relate to them. Lauren also suggested showing the store in the background to convey the product message being “in store now”.

🎯 TIP   Asks medical staff to model items and include a short bio. This is highly relatable to your customers. Or, have your shop volunteers and staff model.

Noelle Boardman from St Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapid photographs merchandise with her cell phone or pulls them from the vendor. She learned how to take professional photos and create a DIY photo box by watching YouTube videos. Her tips were to place lighting directly behind the camera to avoid shadows and, also, make sure all images are the same size for uniformity. We’ll show you how to take product photos using a smartphone below.

To edit your photos, managers Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur at Stanford Health Care Gift Shop highly recommended Canva. They find Canva to be essential. It is easy and intuitive, has lots of plug-n-play uses, and great for removing photo backgrounds. Canva makes it easy to edit photos, add your logo or other graphics to images, design flyers, create social media posts, and develop a brand profile. We recommend adding it to your box of tools, as well. Their tips were to use colored backdrops for white or light items, invest in a $50 photo box, and to recognize that quality photos will set your store’s credibility.

Here are some great merchandise photos, even for difficult to photograph items like scarves and books.

How do you photograph sundries? Remove the background using Canva or photograph them in a lightbox. Here are sites with good examples:  Personal Care Products    Patient Necessities / Sundries   Men’s Toiletries Kit  

How to photograph merchandise with a smartphone

Always shoot in HDR and the flash turned off. Turn “Live” mode off on iPhones. Set size to Portrait mode (or Square) and telephoto lens on newer iPhones. Don’t place item too far away. Fill the frame with your subject and balance content.

Exposure and Focus. Learn how to set exposure and focus. Tap the screen lightly and an exposure indicator will appear. Tap different areas of the screen to see how exposure adjusts. Experiment to find the best exposure. To tell the camera where to focus, hold finger on screen a few seconds until “AE/AF Lock” appears. Freeze focus on the item and background will blur. Experiment by placing an item directly in front of you and locking focus.

Alignment. Always shoot items straight on. Kneel or position the phone on same level or plane as the item. Don’t tilt, tip or angle phone. Hold it perfectly horizontal. Align the grid lines (under Settings > Camera) on the screen to any horizontal or vertical lines in your shot.

Lighting. Purchase a photo studio box ($20-60) or make your own. Turn off all other lights when using a photo box to reduce shadows. If you don’t have a studio box, shoot a bright area with natural light, like an atrium. Avoid florescent lighting and background light sources like windows or light bulbs. Time the shoot when light is even and natural. Avoid hard direct sunlight, shadows, or bright washed-out areas, adjusting exposure as needed.

Photo Editing. In addition to a web-based editor like Canva, you can also edit photos directly on your phone with the apps Snapseed (free) or Touch Retouch ($2.99). Both are simple and full of functionality.

Shooting items in shop. Shoot items in the shop using Portrait mode. This automatically blurs the background making the focused subject matter have the appearance of more depth. Tap the Focus icon in the upper right corner and use the slider to adjust the amount of background blur. After you shoot, use the slider in Edit.

🎯 TIP  Keep your store’s homepage updated with seasonal merchandise. But, be sure customers can find non-holiday merchandise quickly using your robust search function and site navigation. Stanford Health Care Gift Shop does a terrific job rotating product on the homepage to match upcoming holidays.

Payroll Deduction (click to view)

Shopping cart, check out, payment

The check-out process should be a quick, user-friendly experience to reduce cart abandonment and avoid problems. Be sure users can easily add products to their cart and include all the information they need. Include as much detail as possible, up front. If same-day delivery has a 2:00pm deadline, show it at every step possible. Include delivery and shipping policies in the check-out screen plus a link to the policy page on your site.

A good eCommerce software will come with a wide array of payment methods (e.g., Shopify includes PayPal, major credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe). You’ll also want to accommodate payroll deduction, if possible. This will likely require a customization by your eCommerce software, in coordination with your institution. We’ll explore payroll deduction this and other challenges in the last part of this article.

Delivery, shipping, returns, exchanges

Determine what fulfillment methods you can reasonably and successfully offer. Following the mantra that options drive sales, the more the better: delivery in lobby, delivery in office, delivery in patient room, in-store pickup, curbside pickup, store-front pickup, shipping.

If you face staff or time constraints, take a phased approach with your fulfillment option. Start with a few of the easiest ones like in store pickup, lobby pickup, and curbside pickup. Once these have been in place for a few month, you’ve worked out the kinks and have a nice process, add addition options like patient rooms or offices and workstation delivery. Next offer shipping. It has the largest reach, but also requires the most resources and time. You may also find it’s just not feasible.

Promote all your fulfillment options on the homepage, across social media, in ads, flyers, and other marketing avenues.

State deadlines and requirements for fulfillment options clearly, along with other online policies like returns and exchanges. Here are several examples to take from: Sprout Gift Co FAQ; White Rose Gift Shop Shipping/Delivery, Stanford Health Care Gift Shop FAQ, Ohio State Univ Gift Shop Shipping/Returns, Cedars-Sinai FAQ

Use bold text, popups and repetition on any restrictions to avoid any confusion such as, “Flowers are not permitted in ICU, CCU or the NICU patient rooms.” Set the phone number field as required on all orders so you can contact the customer if there are any problems.

Remember that hospital gift shops have one major advantage over Amazon and other online retailers: easy returns and exchanges. It’s a pain to package, label, and drive to the post office. In your case, staff don’t even need to leave the building for returns. Use this to your advantage and make it a selling point. Promote these and other conveniences across social media, email, and other marketing communications.

Don’t reinvent the wheel!

Launching an online store is no small task, but it is doable especially when you don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Visit, study, and copy the shops mentioned in this article. What webpages do they include? What content is on their homepage? Who has the best navigation? What software are they using? If you’re unsure what to include in your Return Policy, pull text from other shops and edit accordingly. Bookmark two or three favorite shops as models and consistently refer back to them when making determinations for your own site.  

Next month, Part 4 will address common challenges, obstacles, and explore outsourcing alternatives when an online shop is impractical due to staffing, time constraints or resources.

Do you have an online store? What has been your experience?

Do you have questions about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

Tips for attending AmericasMart Atlanta Market

“If you have a trusted business partner, divide and conquer. The market is huge, and you’ll need a detailed plan of action to accomplish your goals. Also, download the market app on your phone to make it easier.” 

“Bring a trusted friend or co-worker. Your first trip to AmericasMart can be overwhelming. Your buying partner can help with notes, lists, etc.”

“Book early. The cheapest and the best deals are through the AmericasMart site onPeak https://www.americasmart.com/travel/hotel-reservations. Never stay south toward the airport or at the airport and plan to take the MARTA. It’s not safe unless you are always in a large group. Find your rep in each showroom. Using them doesn’t cost you more. They can also tell you what sells best in your area and who else close by may have that product.”

“Avoid driving in Atlanta if possible. The shuttle service to and from the Mart is a great perk as well. Uber costs less than a taxi. It’s important to book way ahead for the best rates.”

“Plan your lunch early or late due to the long lines. Keep water and snacks with you. Eating dinner is a challenge due to long waits, so eat early rather than later. The shuttle buses are amazing but watch their operating times.”

“However long you think you want to be at AmericasMart, add on one day or even two. You’ll be happy you did once you return back to your store.”

“Have a focus and a plan. Save one day to source new products and vendors. Download the Mart App to your phone. Pack a couple of snacks.”

“Pre-shop showrooms prior to placing orders. It’s the key to building complete statements between multiple vendors. Preselecting what you want also makes it much easier for both you and your sales rep when you return to place your order.”

“Have a rolling bag to put catalogs, handouts, and a bottle of water in. Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. This is not a fashion show; it is a test of endurance.”

SOURCE: SmartRetailer

   

 

 

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Q. Do you have an in-house floral shop?

We have an in-house floral design shop that is operated and staffed by volunteers. It is something that we love and are proud of! We are wondering how many other hospitals have an in house, on campus flower shop, and if so, what is their greatest success? We are interested in growing our operation. – Michaela Kanoski, CHI Health CUMC Bergan Mercy Hospital, Omaha, NE. 400 beds. 6/17/21

Do you have an in-house floral shop and what is successful?

We need to hear from you! Don’t just take; give back. Do your part and leave a comment here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

Featured: Twig Gift Shop

Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY Twig Gift Shop

Linda Leary and Anne Trocano, Twig Gift Shop, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY

Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, NY (528 beds) closed the Twig Gift Shop for 14 months during the pandemic. In May, they reopened and celebrated its brand new location inside the hospital’s latest addition, the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care.

Next year, the shop will celebrate its 75th year of providing retail therapy in the hospital! Since its opening in 1947, the gift shop has been run by volunteers of the Rochester General Hospital Association. In those early years, they sold items hand-made by the volunteers. Now, they offer flowers, cards, jewelry, accessories, toys, apparel, gifts, and locally made candy.

Along with the shop’s only employee, Buyer and Manager, Linda Leary, the Rochester General Hospital Association is using the shop to serve patients, families, visitors, and staff while raising money to support projects that improve the patient experience. Currently, proceeds are supporting the new Twig Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that opened in October 2020.


Job Openings

Gift Shop Manager
Beaumont Health, Troy, MI

Manager, Gift Shop & Patient Services
Ardent Health Services, Amarillo, TX

Volunteer & Gift Shop Manager 
AdventHealth, Palm Coast, FL

Hospitality Retail Manager
Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

Supervisor Retail Services – Gift Shop 
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Pontiac, MI

Gift Shop Coordinator
Prisma Health  Columbia, SC

Manager, Gift Shop
Sarasota Health Care System, Sarasota, FL

Museum Gift Shop Manager
Jekyll Island Museum, Jekyll Island, GA

Manager/Buyer, Gift Shop
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Volunteer Services/Gift Shop Coordinator 
Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, IN


Q. What is your protocol for reinstating volunteers?

Our gift shop is currently closed and will be opening in August. What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers? Do they have to show their vaccine card? What other steps are necessary? – John Klos, Gift Shop Manager, Volunteer Services. Saint Francis Health System, Tulsa OK. 6/12/21

What is the protocol after COVID-19 to follow for reinstating the volunteers?

Are your volunteers required to show a vaccine card? Leave your reply here or enter it at the bottom of the newsletter.

Thank you!

💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Jun 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

STATE AUXILIARY CONFERENCES

Oct 4-6, 2021 Council of Volunteer Services of Georgia Hospital Association (COVS-Georgia) Annual Meeting Macon, GA

Cancelled Texas Association, Directors of Volunteer Services (TADVS)


Customer Satisfaction Survey

In case you missed it!

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Last month’s issue had a free template of a Customer Satisfaction Survey. Download for free here.


Q. Scrub hat vendor?

Q. I am trying to find a vendor that sells scrub hats. Can you please ask the other gift shop managers in your next newsletter. Thank you! – Debbie Collins, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 4/19/21

We get them from Outside the Box (aka Badge A-Peel). They have scrub caps and bouffant caps. They also sell really cute badge reels. – Lori Johndrow, 5/17/21

Sparkling Earth. Staff love the options, fit and fabric design choices. – Lori C Campbell, 5/19/21

Outside the Box has cute scrub hats and bouffant hats. They have buttons on the side for mask ear straps to attach, also. They have Velcro badge holders with interchangeable buttons and acrylic figures. – Ginger McGraw, 5/17/21

 

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MAY 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #617
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • PART 2. Creating an online store
  • Startup and operating costs
  • Getting started
  • Selecting an eCommerce platform
  • POS and other integrations
  • Research, plan, and then execute
  • Example online shops
  • More shops reopening!

  • Tote Sale
  • Red-carpet welcome for volunteers at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital
  • Free Template: Customer Satisfaction Survey
  • Q. Scrub hat vendor?
  • Online Store: Discussion
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


PLANT VENDOR

Is there a wholesale plant vendor you use to stock your gift shop? – Jamie Lee Hernandez, St. Vincent Healthcare, Billings, MT, 5/19/21

What wholesale plant vendor do you recommend?

Click the comment bubble or scroll to to the bottom and enter it there.

Thanks!

ONLINE STORE

First of all, thank you for deep diving into this subject. I wanted to know if having a POS is imperative to having an online presence? Is there a work around? Currently we do not have a POS, but we would love to explore the online possibility. Thank you. – Jamie Lee Hernandez, 5/20/21

A POS is not required to have an online store. You can sell, process payment, and fulfill orders entirely through your eCommerce software. You’ll need to coordinate your in-store with online sales, plus financials, and inventory. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


CUSTOMER REWARD/LOYALTY PROGRAM

We are interested in starting a customer reward/loyalty program. Requesting any advice on a system that has worked well in your hospital gift shop. – Stephanie Byrom, SJRMC Gift Market, Farmington, NM 194 beds. 5/17/12

Do you have a customer reward or loyalty program?

On behalf of all the readers and fellow gift shop managers across the country, thanks for commenting!

Merci!

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Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers | May 15, 2021 💮

CINDY’S NEWSLETTER
for Gift Shop Managers

Cindy’s Newsletter for Gift Shop Managers delivers practical, ready-to-implement content to gift shop managers, retailers, and volunteers across the country. We help our readership of over 3,000 retailers optimize shop operations, grow revenue, and connect with one another. The newsletter is published monthly and free since 2001.

Have you paid your dues this quarter?

The value and richness of this newsletter comes from your participation. Do your part by submitting two comments per quarter, at minimum. Reply to reader’s questions listed throughout the newsletter (in green) or simply share what is working or isn’t working in your shop, a great selling product, a helpful website or resource, an operating question, your biggest challenge right now, a terrific vendor you’ve come across recently, tips on managing volunteers, or tips on managing yourself!

LEAVE A COMMENT! Click the green comment tags throughout the newsletter, enter it in the comment section, or send to cindy@cindyjonesassociates.com.


MAY 15, 2021


In the April issue we discussed how you, as shop managers, sometimes feel isolated within your hospital environment because most hospital employees are not ‘retail savvy’ and cannot help you with your questions or advice. But, just remember how very important you are to your hospital!

  • You know more people by name than do most hospital employees.
  • You are there morning, noon and night seven days a week, guiding, assisting and helping people.
  • You help make hospital employees feel connected because the shop is often the ‘common ground’ where they can meet and visit with each another.
  • You probably answer more questions than in most other areas of your hospital.
  • And, when it comes to compassion, you are key to making patients and families feel they have had a good experience.
  • Most of all, you are the human side of compassion and making a difference. While you may not know all the patients, visitors and medical staff, you are right there along with them in your hospital.

Never feel that you are not as ‘important’ as any other employee in the hospital. You have a great opportunity to have a positive influence on 3 to 1,000+ people every day! What an opportunity!

– Cindy Jones, Editor


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Creating an Online Store | Part 2: Costs, getting started, software selection and integrations

by Nicole Stanbridge / Cindy Jones Assoc / May 15, 2021

This is the second of our four-part series on setting up and launching and online store for your gift shop. In Part 1 of the series we looked at online consumer behavior, current demand, pre-launch planning, as well as the pros and cons of an online store. Here, in Part 2, we we’ll discuss startup and operating costs, technical requirements, selecting an eCommerce platform, and system integrations. Part 3 will look at setting up the website, navigation (menus), product images, and online shop policies. Part 4 will explore options for shops that don’t have the time, resources or staff to launch an online shop.

Exemplary online stores
We interviewed four shops with successful online stores for this article. We encourage you to visit them! 

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop
Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
Shellee Laubersheimer, Operations Manager
Mamta Kaur, Manager, Retail Program
Website: shcgiftshop.com
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: BigCommerce / POS: Vend

Heart Strings Gift Shop
Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
Lauren Crews, Manager and Owner
Website: shopheartstrings.com
eCommerce: Shopify / POS: Square

St. Luke’s Floral & Gifts
UnityPoint Health St Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids, IA
Noelle Boardman, Gift Shop Coordinator
Website:  unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/gift-shop-home.aspx
Hospital referring page
eCommerce: Hospital’s software / POS: Counterpoint

Sprout Gift Co.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada
Shauna Morgan, Gift Shop Manager
Website: sproutgiftco.ca
eCommerce: WooCommerce / POS: Square

A sincere thank you to all the managers we interviewed!

Other notable online shops:

White Rose Gift Shop, Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital (powered by Shopify)
Cedars-Sinai Helping Hand Gift Shop (powered by Shopify)
Strong Memorial Hospital Gift Shop (powered by NitroSell)
Wild Rose Gift Shop, Univ of Iowa Hospitals (powered by Magento)
Scarlet Ribbon Gift Shop, Ohio State Univ Hospitals
Methodist Hospital Gift Shop  (powered by Shopify)
Mercy Gift Shop, Ascension Via Christi Hospital (powered by Wix)

Startup and operating costs

Startup and ongoing operating costs for an online store can vary depending on existing infrastructure and the extent of services offered (e.g., shipping and supplies). Typical costs include eCommerce software fees, domain fees, webhosting fees, templates (optional), and web developer fees (optional). Costs for photo supplies can include lightbox, backdrop, lighting, steamer, and edit/design tool (e.g., Canva). If you decide to offer shipping, allow for expenses like postage, postage software, printed inserts, equipment, labels, packing materials, and shipping boxes.

“The startup costs for the Sprout Gift Shop website were fairly limited. Outside of having the website designed by a third party, the only additional costs associated were staff time, WooCommerce, and Shopventory. These depend very much on the size of the gift shop and the options that the organization wants. The website design fee was integrated into other regular maintenance fees with our website developer, Island Collective,” said Shauna Morgan, Shop Manager at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon, Canada.

The largest ongoing expense is typically eCommerce software fees (or shipping expenses, if offered). Among the shops interviewed, eCommerce monthly fees ranged from $60 to $300, not including credit card processing fees (2% – 3% per transaction). Most software providers offer a discount for annual vs monthly payment. Beware, some have steep setup fees.

Mercy Hospital Gift Shop, Manhattan, KS

Mercy Hospital Gift Shop, Manhattan, KS

Hire a web designer to setup your site only if you have the budget. The average cost is around $3,000-$8,000. Our starting rate for a Shopify eCommerce Website setup and design at Cindy Jones Associates is $3,500. Contact us to learn more. Otherwise, it is not necessary to hire one thanks to today’s user-friendly platforms. Only one of the shops we interviewed hired a designer. The rest were self taught. 

Below are some of the typical startup and ongoing expenses for an online store. You may not incur all of them. For example, you opt to bundle the domain and hosting with your eCommerce provider or don’t offer shipping. Thank you to Stanford Health Care Gift Shop for contributing content to help construct this budget! 

Infrastructure
Domain name: $8-20 (annual)
Web hosting: $80-300 (monthly)
eCommerce setup: $500-1500 (once)
eCommerce software: $29-300 (once)
Website template/theme: $60-300 (once)
Add-ons/extensions $50-300 (once)
Payment processing 2–3% /transaction

Photo Supplies
Lightbox: $50-150 (once)
Backdrop/lighting: $100-150 (once)
Steamer: $100-250 (once)
Mannequins/Head Busts: $300-500 (once)
Canva.com membership: $125 (annual)

Shipping
Postage software: (annual)
Postage equipment: $500 (once)
Prepaid postage: $100-500 (recurring)
Shipping labels $20-50 (recurring)
Packing materials: $200-700 (recurring)
Shipping boxes: $300-500 (recurring)
Gift wrap boxes/ribbon: $300-500 (recurring)

**Costs vary depending on shop size and services. eCommerce setup, template/theme, and add-ons/extension fees are less common costs. Packing materials include bubblewrap, tissue paper, tape, tap dispenser. eCommerce setup includes training and technical support. You may not need this.

Getting Started
What do you need to create an online store? There are three components required to launch:

  1. eCommerce software for creating the store’s website.
  2. Web host provider who will ‘host’ the website files (on a physical server somewhere).
  3. Domain name (i.e., URL, weblink) for the online store. This can be a subdomain of the hospital or a separate custom domain. Stanford’s online shop uses a custom domain: shcgiftshop.com. In contrast, Strong Memorial uses www.stronggiftshop.urmc.edu, a subdomain of urmc.edu.

These services can be obtained from three separate providers, a single provider, or a hybrid configuration utilizing your organization’s existing providers, when available. We recommend sourcing as many services as possible from a single provider, though. It will be easier to manage, consolidates billing, and requires the least technical know-how. Shopify offers bundled software, hosting, and domain for $29/mo (Basic plan).

  • Top eCommerce platform providers include: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, 3dcart.
  • Common domain registrars (providers) include: Domain.com, GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, Namecheap.
  • Some of the best web host providers include: Bluehost, HostGator, DreamHost, A2Hosting, Hostinger.

Before deciding, see if your organization has established these providers already and also ask about any requirements. The hospital may have a webhost already, or require a HIPAA-compliant webhost provider, or prohibit custom domains. Noelle Boardman, Shop Manager at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, learned that her hospital already had an eCommerce platform and local web developer available for the gift shop’s use. Also check with the maternity department. Most of them sell products online for mothers and newborns. You may be able to use the same eCommerce platform.

Otherwise, try to select a provider that bundle software, hosting and domain together. Ask your IT, communications and marketing departments for recommendations, along with friends, family, colleagues. Don’t go it alone. Use the resources and expertise available to you when selecting the required services.

Selecting an eCommerce platform

Selecting an eCommerce software to run your online store is one of the most important decisions in the entire process. As with any business decision, you need to do your research first. There are a lot of options, some better than others. The first step is to outline your requirements. Sit down and shop the example stores interviewed for this article. Write down the features and components you want. Don’t worry if you miss some. Right now, it’s about becoming familiar and discovery.

Consider creating a free 14-day trial with Shopify to become familiar with the setup process, identify requirements, and determine if you want to go at it alone or get help. Use the free trail as a learning tool. Then keep the account or close it, no credit card required.

It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions at this stage, such as:What shopping cart and check out functions do you need?

  1. Does it have to integrate with your POS? If so, does it natively or require a fee?
  2. Will you hire a designer or use the templates provided to build your store’s website?
  3. Do you need a domain bundled with the eCommerce software?
  4. How big is your customer base? Some platforms charge by sales volume.
  5. Do you need shipping functionality?
  6. What payment methods do you want (credit card, Apple Pay, Paypal, payroll deduction, etc.)?

A good eCommerce platform has an intuitive interface, requires minimal technical knowledge, and includes robust online support documents and forum. A good platform will walk you through the entire setup, in plain speak, step-by-step fashion. Most come with templates for designing your webpages, including layout, components, and navigation. You’ll also find template language for check-out pages, refund, return, and other shop policies. (More about  policies for online stores in Part 3.)

Sprout Gift Co, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Sprout Gift Co, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital

Start thinking now about how, or if, the eCommerce software will integrate with your POS. Most of the managers we interviewed touched on this. Managers Shellee Laubersheimer and Mamta Kaur at Stanford Hospital Gift Shop said their eCommerce “options were limited because it needed to integrate with Vend POS. That was the priority and BigCommerce had best integration.” They also did a trial account with BigCommerce first, which helped. We’ll discuss system integrations, at length, next.

We use Shopify for the online store at Cindy Jones Associates. It is reasonably priced, user-friendly setup, designed for the non-techy, well supported, includes domain and hosting. Other popular eCommerce platforms include Square Online by Square (also known as SquareUp), Shopify, Weebly, Wix eCommerce, NitroSell, Magento Commerce, Squarespace, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce (requires WordPress). Explore the software used by the online shops in this article in Part 1. Additionally, there are good comparisons here in the 8 Best Ecommerce Platforms and eCommerce Platform Comparison – Which Will Be Best for You?

POS and other integrations

System integrations can save considerable time, prevent errors, enhance services, and increase customer satisfaction, while inherently optimizing operations. How the shop’s software and systems integrate, or talk to one another, can have a significant impact on shop efficiency. Here’s an example. Both in-store sales and online store sales will now pull from the same inventory. Your POS and online store should, optimally, sync these transactions. This was one of the most common challenges among the managers we interviewed for this article.

Stanford University Gift Shop

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop

Stanford Health Care Gift Shop’s eCommerce platform, BigCommerce, integrates with their POS (Vend) and “serves as the source of truth for all things inventory related,” said manager Shellee Laubersheimer. In contrast, St Luke’s Cedar Rapids Hospital manually records online orders in their POS (Counterpoint). Shop manager Noelle Boardman said their lack of integration is the hardest part. “Availability is indicated online for shoppers, but items can sometimes sell out in the store. When this happens, staff notifies the manager who marks it ‘out of stock’ in the webstore. But staff don’t always notify the manager so the website doesn’t get updated.”

A good rule of thumb is to always integrate new systems upfront, on launch, whenever possible. Aim to select an eCommerce platform that is the most compatible with your POS and other systems. It will be easier and less expensive now versus retrofitting incompatible systems down the road. Sprout Gift Shop in Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital has their POS connected to both the online store with WooCommerce and Shopventory. “If an item is sold in-store or on the website, inventory is adjusted accordingly,” said Shauna Morgan, shop manager.

When researching an eCommerce software ask 1) does it integrate out-of-the-box with my system(s); and 2) how easily. BigCommerce integrates natively with Square POS, Vend, Springboard, Shopkeep, Hike and Clover. But, to our knowledge, Square and Shopify do not offer native integrations because they sell their own POS. If they don’t integrate, get a quote for the work. Negotiate fees or explore other platforms.

Note, you might hear the term API when researching integrations. This is simply the intermediary software that allows two applications to talk to each other. Enlist your IT department to help with integrations.

Don’t forget to ask your POS provider what eCommerce software they recommend for ease of integration. For example, Vend offers native integration with BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce. In addition, many POS companies offer their own eCommerce component so integration is done. For example, Square Online can be easily added on to Square POS. It includes software, hosting and domain for $12/mo (Professional plan). Lightspeed offers Lightspeed eCom bundled with their POS. Be sure to check hardware compatibility first.

Finally, if you are already planning to upgrade your POS, consider providers like Square and Shopify that offer single-source bundled POS, online store, social media services, inventory platform, and more. There are always pros and cons, but bundled services are typically advantageous if time, resources, or technical know-how are limited.

Research, plan, and then execute

In closing, take the time now to evaluate costs, explore technical requirements, determine your store’s ‘must haves’, research eCommerce software, and make a plan. This stage is about learning, prepping, and planning.

When asked for the most important piece of advice to give others, Noelle Boardman at St Luke’s Hospital at Cedar Rapids said, “When you first start, you need to be all in and on board. Allocate the time required up front. Be willing to learn, dig in, and put in the time upfront.”

At Stanford Health Care Gift Shop, getting started “was an ongoing plan, partnering with IT and the shop, over 18 months. IT researched eCommerce options and guided us on technical and security requirements. They also lead communications with their eCommerce provider (BigCommerce) when problems arise,” said manager Shellee Laubersheimer.

Next, in Part 3 of this series, we will dive into setup, branding, site design, layout, product images, delivery, shipping and policy requirements for an online store. Following this, Part 4 will address common challenges or obstacles, and explore outsourced alternatives when an online shop is impractical due to staffing, time constraints or resources.

Do you have a question about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know!

Do you have questions about the online store topics discussed here this month? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Thank you!

Shops reopening

Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, MN

Mayo Clinic, Mankato, MN

At this time last year, we like so many others closed our doors until September. We are almost back to an 9am to 4pm schedule, Monday thru Friday, which is very gratifying! It was so good to know that what was going on here was the norm across the country and that we would make it through this. Thank you, Cindy, for being there for us.

Our shop is 1000 square feet and we use every inch of it. Clothing is our best selling category. Customers do appreciate the same amount of a style so they do not see multiples when at work or at an event.  We have a clothing display outside the door which is changed daily. That is golden! Other points of interest about our shop:

Our helium balloons sell for $3.99.
Our buyer attends 5 gift markets a year.
We produce monthly sales reports.
We follow ADA aisles requirements.
We give a 10% discount to our gift shop volunteers.
Shipping costs are factored into our prices.

– Mary Robinson, Gift Shop Coordinator, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, MN 

______________________

St. Michael-Atlanta welcomes back volunteers

CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta volunteers have returned to duty after a “hiatus” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers reopened the hospital’s gift shop and returned to other roles Monday, following a luncheon on Thursday “to thank them for their dedication and to welcome the volunteers back to service,” the hospital announced. Read more…

 

 

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Tote Sale

A tote sale worked extremely well for our shop. We bought holiday totes from Burton & Burton for $1.66 each, priced them at $4.99 which is a 66.73% mark-up. The promotion is, buy a tote at $4.99 and anything you can get in the tote is 25% off. And our pitch is “we can make anything fit in a tote.” Sold out of the totes in two days! I do this sale two times a year and my customers/employees can’t wait for it. Thank you so much! – Kim DeBord, Marketplace Manager, Riverside Medical Center Kankakee, IL


Red-carpet welcome for volunteers at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital

The Courier / Apr 23, 2021

Hospital volunteers got their moment to shine Friday with a red-carpet welcome at UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital.

Volunteers have not worked at the hospital since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year ago.

A couple dozen staff members cheered on about 15 volunteers as they entered the building for re-orientation training Friday morning.

CLICK TO WATCH!


💮 CALENDAR 💮

GIFT MARKETS

Updated Apr 15. **Always double-check show dates for changes.RESCHEDULED for
Jun 5-9, 2021
High Point Spring Market
Apr 17-20, 2021
Jun 6-7, 2021
Denver Apparel & Accessory Market
Jun 9–12, 2021
June Atlanta Apparel
Jul 13-19, 2021
Atlanta Market (Summer)
Aug 7–10, 2021
International Home + Housewares Show, Chicago, IL
Aug 8-11, 2021
NY NOW Market (Summer) Jacob Javits Center, NY
RESCHEDULED for
Aug 22-26, 2021
Las Vegas Market (Summer)
Jul 25-29, 2021
Aug 24-27, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market (Summer)
Sep 22-24, 2021
Dallas Total Home & Gift Market
Oct 5-6, 2021
Seattle Mart Fall Buying Event
Oct 13-15, 2021
October Atlanta Apparel Market
Oct 26-28, 2021
Atlanta Fall Cash & Carry
Oct 26-29, 2021
Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market
Nov 1-3, 2021
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo, Ocean City, MD
Dec 5-8, 2021
Grand Strand Gift & Resort Merchandise Show, Myrtle Beach, SC
Visit Gift Shop Mag Trade Show Calendar or Smart Retailer TradeShow Calendar for smaller local/regional shows.

Customer Satisfaction Survey
Click image to download

Free Template: Customer Satisfaction Survey

Customer surveys measure customer satisfaction!

Hospital employees are your primary customer. Do you ever wonder what they really think about your shop?

Customer Satisfaction Survey
FREE DOWNLOAD

Attention should be given to the categories that are rated ‘fair’. This indicates a number of people are not getting their needs met. If customer service ratings are fair to low it is important to focus on all cashiers (volunteer and paid) and work to improve their customer service delivery through an aggressive cashier training program. For every customer who complains, 20 don’t!

Be sure to communicate the reasons for the survey and the value the is expected from reviewing the results. Employees may be leery of taking the survey due to privacy concerns about who receives the information they provide. Keep the survey short and simple, with space for employees to write responses. A survey should not have lots of questions and take hours to answer—the response rate will be low, and the information collected will not add extensive value to the organization.

Keep the survey open long enough so that all employees have the opportunity to complete it, and send reminders to them to do so. Communicate the results of the survey transparently and honestly, regardless of how positive or negative the feedback might be. Provide action items and strategy based on the survey responses. You have an obligation to provide timely results.


Q. Scrub hat vendor?

Q. I am trying to find a vendor that sells scrub hats. Can you please ask the other gift shop managers in your next newsletter. Thank you! – Debbie Collins, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 4/19/21

Who is your favorite scrub hat vendor?

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APRIL 2021 NEWSLETTER: ISSUE #616
Check out last month’s articles, surveys, and discussions.

  • Creating an online store | Part 1: Value, considerations, consumer demand
  • Exemplary online shops
  • Eliminating barriers to sale
  • Is an online store worth it?
  • Capturing “shop local” sales online
  • Managers share their pros and cons

  • The art of simple displays
  • Best-selling post-pandemic items
  • Online fundraisers
  • Readers recommendations on background music
  • Ongoing impact of COVID-19
  • Solutions to old inventory taking up space
  • Calendar: Gift Markets and Regional Conferences

DISCUSSION


ONLINE STORE

Cindy, this is absolutely the best newsletter that you have published. I will use as a reference over and over. We too realized that we were fortunate to have an online shop. We continue to update it as part of our hospital website. The big website will be new and fresher soon. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our on line business continues to grow even as we have opened our gift shop. We will send in our good news for you to publish. Have a great weekend – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

Congratulations on launching your online shop. It is terrific. The landing page image with the teddy bear is really effective. Did you set up and launch it yourself? What software are you using? Several managers are wondering how to coordinate online with in-shop inventory. Are you having the same issue? – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

Our gift shop is part of the hospital website. We are continuing to upgrade our part, as well as, the hospital having a new site. We do struggle with the inventory—as we are on Arba systems. We continue to keep up with inventory the old fashioned way, counting each week. We do keep the inventory separate from the shop back stock. Hope this part helps. – Kathryn, Carousel Gift Shop, Driscoll Childrens Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX. 191 bed. 4/19/21

We do not have a web site but will be building one this summer. My question is, I do not want to offer delivery beyond our campus (no shipping). Anyone had success doing this? – Kevin Shaw, Methodist Hospital Gift Shop, St Louis Park, MN. 4/16/21

Yes! Our sole purpose of an online store is for Patient Delivery Only and our opening welcome message on the site reads: Through this site, you may order gifts for delivery to patients staying at our hospitals”. We advertise “pre made bundles” to simplify options. We have a binder kept at the register that lists all of our online gift bundles and what items are needed to fulfill the order so that all staff members can work on gift building. We recently added phone chargers as an option online as we get a lot of phone calls from customers looking to send a charger to a patient. Well now they can order that charger online as an “add-on” item!
For inventory purposes, we ring up each item at the point of sale and use “eHit” as our mode of tender; it’s an arbitrary tender that has its own line on our reports so that these sales are not getting mixed into credit card or cash sales. – Meggen Heuss, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. 500 bed. 4/21/21

We do not yet have an online store however, this information is quite timely in that I am just beginning to explore one. I look forward to the next parts of the series as I am sure there are so many parts and pieces to consider. Without question, I believe it would be worth it, but getting it up and running and having manpower to keeping it going may prove to be more difficult. The shipping pieces is something that really worries me… Thank you all for your time to compile this information, it is appreciated. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 4/16/21

Remember, you don’t have to offer shipping. You can limit your fulfillment options to only those you feel are feasible: Patient Room Delivery, Office Delivery, In Store Pickup and, Lobby Pickup, Curbside Pickup. Phase in additional options, like shipping, later on when ready or not at all. We’ll discuss fulfillment methods in Part III. – Nicole, Cindy Jones Assoc

I am so interested to hear what others are doing, the pro’s and the con’s to having an online store. Who are you targeting? What merchandise will you sell? Where will the merchandise be stored? Delivery, mail out, curbside pick up etc. Who will manage it? Who will manage it when you are on vacation, nights and weekends etc. – Jamie Lee Hernandez 3/18/21

I’m not 100% sure so maybe Cindy could help us, but someone told me that if you are not for profit that you have to be very careful with online shopping because it could forfeit your nonprofit status. Cindy, can you help? Is this true? – Ali McCrary, Good Samaritan, Vincennes, IN. 232 beds. 2/16/21

FROM CINDY
It is a myth that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can‘t make a profit. Most hospitals and their subsequent gift shops are for profit. They charge sales tax and operate as a business. The shops then donate all their profits to the hospital for patient benefit and equipment. Look for our upcoming article on how to start an online store. We’ve found some terrific online gift shops and currently interviewing their managers to share with our readers. In the meantime, here is a helpful article on launching an on-line store Overcome Common Problems Launching a Hospital Gift Store Website  2/17/21

We are a volunteer only hospital gift shop. No visitors in almost a year. We we closed for 7 months and now are only open in the afternoons. We’ve been having a 30% off sale and the store is still full! An online shop would be great but it would fall on one person to create it and manage and would be a full time job.  – Martha Burke, Rome Hospital, Rome, NY. 130 beds. 2/9/21


COVID IMPACT

Our store is approximately 1200 sq. ft. and due to social distancing, we have had to limit our customers in the store to 15. Nearly everyone has been patient while browsing and keeping their distance. We cannot have sales that would create swarms of shoppers, but we are missing the revenue. How can we promote the store and keep a safe environment? Has anyone else tackled this problem successfully? What was your answer? – Luanne Crosby, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY. 800 beds. 3/16/21

My shop has been open limited hours since March of 2020. In spite of that, I have found some success in featuring local vendors – smaller businesses that make the product in the city where my shop is or in the State. People really like being able to shop/support local. I have identified these vendors based off staff recommendations. – Christina Blaskie, Parkview LaGrange Hospital, Kendallville. 22 beds. 3/16/21

Cindy, we have been locked out of our Gift Shop since March 3, 2020. New merchandise sitting in stockroom with no promise of opening any time soon. Most volunteers have become discouraged and not interested in returning. – Vivian Metler, Charlevoix, MI. 40 beds. 1/21/21

Vivian, Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear your shop is still closed. So many are experiencing the same as you. Or, even worse, a few shops have closed for good. This is so disheartening. – Cindy

This is Diana from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital Gift Shop. We have been closed since March 2020! – Diana LaRose, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital, Ste. Genevieve, MO. 53 beds. 2/17/21

Diana, sorry to hear your gift shop is still closed. It must be difficult. Early results from the poll show the majority of shops are “Open, reduced hours”. We hope you can reopen with reduced hours or, even fully reopen, soon! – Cindy


OLD INVENTORY & SPACE

Q. What do you do with old inventory that is taking up space?

We host an annual clearance sale as well. Our store room is in the basement of the hospital so we have a $1-5 cart we put outside the door to move items as well. – Ginger Taylor, Cox Medical Center, Springfield, MO.  2/20/21

I manage a small hospital gift shop, and like everyone else, have “odds & ends” left over after each season. I create a “potluck” or themed basket, make it attractive and colorful. I use pretty paper and ribbons, so it’s seen as a “prize”, and raffle it off for $1 a ticket. Everyone sees it as a chance to get items to use later for gifts, or get things they just didn’t pick up for themselves. I take a picture, email it to all the departments, and watch those $1 tickets fly out the door! More times than not I not only recoup the costs of the items, but make a profit! The winner gets their picture taken with their prize, and is in the next email. It’s productive and great fun! – Susan Ingram, Gift Shop Coordinator, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital, Phenix City, AL. 2/17/21

Thank you for this idea! – Holly Verbos, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey. 546 beds

A clearance sale or special of some sort. Maybe themed by a coming holiday or special day like a 25% off sale on the 25th day of the month. – Peter Waugh 2/17/21

If you have room to store it such as winter items, bring it back out in November and have a big sale. But only keep items from previous season. If you don’t have room to do this sell it drastically reduced for 6 weeks and donate what didn’t sell. We use Facebook and advertise our sales with pictures. – Debbie 2/16/21

I mark inventory that’s not moving down a couple of times and then leftovers are put in my annual “sidewalk” sale. I set up a conference room every September and mark these items to move. Employees look forward to this sale every year. I rarely have anything left. – Diane Honsberger 2/16/21

Very good solution, Diane! – Cindy

First, I get down to a 20, 30, 40, 50 dollar rack and if it still does not go, I donate it! – CC Cree. 2/16/21

On 50% off, do buy one get one. Makes 2 leave instead of 1. – Tricia Rochman, Pink Geranium Gift Shop, Carbondale. 65 beds. 2/16/21

Tricia, I agree with you 100%! – Cindy

We have a small clearance sale area in the back corner of our gift shop. Items are priced 30-70% off. The longer they sit, the deeper the discount. We usually donate the non selling items, but this year we held a $1.00 Sale. We put all items that we were planning donating on cart and sold each for $1.00. It was a great success and no one had to haul any boxes out to be donated! – B. Putnam, Coldwater, MI 2/16/21

Love the idea of a $1 sale! We always dread clearance items that still don’t sell and having to haul them to a donation station! It’s a win-win! – Staci, Methodist Texsan Hospital, San Antonio, TX. 200 beds 2/16/21

Read Cindy’s extended response in last month’s newsletter.


SHOPPING BAGS

Q. What vendors do others use for bags for customer purchases? We love having the “handled” bags, but feel the price per unit is eating away at our profits! I welcome any and all suggestions.  Thank you! – Darlene Brooks, Adventist Health 2/13/21

Nashville Wraps and S. Walter Packaging  – Gale Cialeo 2/18/21


PROMOTIONS



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